At the beginning of 2003, El Flaco Explosivo and I made a short film titled The Deer Hunter 2. It’s a think piece about one man’s struggles to get his sequel to the film The Deer Hunter into the Cannes film festival. He and his morally ambiguous friend, who volunteers at a suicide hotline (he has a wins/losses column on his desk), convince a “client” to be literally killed on film, so they can complete the movie since they don’t have the budget for special effects. If you couldn’t already tell it’s an extremely dark comedy; think The Belgian film Man Bites Dog. The Deerhunter 2 found itself as the opening short film at the very first Superfilm. El Flaco oversaw a weekly film series that took place in the screening room of a restaurant/bar in downtown Manhattan. Every Tuesday night, for Superfilm, he would showcase a short film from a local filmmaker and follow it up with a feature. Each month brought with it a different theme. For example, in October he would show horror films. He and the bartender would also create a specialty drink to coincide with the theme of the particular feature for that evening. If Alien was the film, they might create a drink called “The Chest Burster.” The screening room also had food and drink service, so you could have dinner and knock back a few while watching a classic like They Live or Oldboy. The very first Superfilm showing took place soon after the opening of the restaurant, and I was excited about the prospect of having our short film kick off the series. Numerous friends showed up, and our film was well received. El Flaco and I celebrated. We began the feature film, and since we’d both seen it, decided to leave the screening room for the bar. While we drank, a few people dropped by to offer their congratulations. One such person, was Taimak, the actor/martial artist who, among other things, starred in the film The Last Dragon. Produced by Berry Gordy. Released in 1985, the film is a cult classic. He was friends with El Flaco. We hung out with him for a few minutes. Midway through the conversation, I noticed his eyes shifted, so he was looking directly over my shoulder. His face grew solemn, and he yelled “Don’t do that.” He ran past me. I turned around half expecting to see Shonuff, the villain from The Last Dragon but instead saw two overweight middle-aged men gripping each other’s shirt lapels. The melee overturned a table, and the two men lurched in our direction. Now, Taimak was already going to break up the fight, and if it had happened today, I would have gladly sat back and watched as a spectator. As it happened, I followed him into the fray. He grabbed hold of one of the guys, I slide tackled the other. Acting on pure muscle memory, from my high school wrestling days, I placed him in a “guillotine.” The man hemmed and hawed at me to let him go. Of course, that just made me cinch it tighter like I was Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator when he bends wooden branches over his shoulders to fabricate bow and arrows. The man went through the various stages: anger, compromise, etc. but the more I stretched him the less apt he was to negotiate. Eventually, he wilted. I thought about making him smack himself with his own hand repeatedly and asking him why he was hitting himself but opted against it. Instead, I admonished him for making a scene and made sure that he would behave himself once I let him go. Of course, as soon as I released him, he threw a sucker punch which hit me in the forehead. He couldn’t generate a lot of power, so it was more of a glancing blow. Before I or anyone else could retaliate, he was escorted outside.
Here’s how the rest of the evening went:
1) I drank for free.
2) The guy who I grabbed was one of the contractors hired to build the restaurant, so almost as soon as he was thrown out he came right back inside as if nothing had happened.
3) My favorite part: When I put the guy in the guillotine; we were literally at El Flaco Explosivo’s feet. At one point, I looked directly up at Flaco. He maneuvered his feet, so he wouldn’t get tangled up, gave me a nod, and took a sip of his drink. Flaco looks like Slim Jim Phantom from The Stray Cats; it might have been the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.
Andrew Davie received an MFA in creative writing from Adelphi University. He taught English in Macau on a Fulbright Grant. In June of 2018, he survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage. His other work can be found in links on his website: asdavie.wordpress.com