26-دستیارِ، دستیارِ، دستیارکتاب: زندگی در چند بخش / فصل 26
26-دستیارِ، دستیارِ، دستیار
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متن انگلیسی فصل
Assistant to the Assistant to the Assistant
Someone was terrorizing the people of Chicago in 1980. He slithered undetected through the sewers, killing stray animals, the homeless, sewer workers, and the occasional wandering soul seeking privacy for illicit activities. Only one person understood the true nature of this horrible thing, a lone police detective named David Madison. He fought in vain to warn others that they weren’t looking for a man, but a beast—a gigantic alligator with a voracious appetite. It sounded crazy, and the authorities ignored him at first. But when another citizen went missing, and another, Detective Madison was the city’s last hope. He leapt into action, and he hatched a plan to kill the alligator with a cache of TNT. But what to use as bait? He’d use himself. He would lure the monster out of its dank lair. And sure enough, the cold-blooded killer appeared, betrayed by its hunger. The alligator tried to make David its tasty lunch, but the experienced cop had an escape plan. A manhole. He had wired dynamite to the bottom rung of the ladder; as the angry alligator made a lunge, David climbed out through the manhole cover and rolled away on the street above just before—KABOOM! Pieces of the leviathan’s flesh, bone fragments, and blood spewed everywhere. David was fine—a bit bruised and cut up, but the beast was vanquished.
That was basically the whole story behind the movie Alligator.
I made the blood and guts stuffed into the cavity of the alligator. I didn’t concoct the recipe—the special effects expert did—but I worked for him. Actually I worked for his assistant’s assistant’s . . . assistant.
I was originally hired by the production office for fifty bucks a day for fourteen hours of menial work. But when the special effects (SFX) department asked for a production assistant (PA) to be assigned to them exclusively, I raised my hand and showed my enthusiasm. With several fewer degrees of enthusiasm an SFX representative said, “Okay, you’ll do.”
The biggest thing was the alligator’s blood. The assistant’s assistant instructed me how to mix a concoction of cut-up chunks of foam rubber and red-dyed Karo syrup. (A thick sweetener made from corn and used largely in industrial kitchens, Karo has a blood-like viscosity.) We stirred up huge vats of the stuff, poured it into gallon-sized Ziplocs, and stuffed the stand-in alligator that was stationed in its final resting place in the real sewers of Los Angeles.
Boom went the alligator. We blew him up. Twice. And twice, the director, Lewis Teague, looked at our handiwork and said, “I need a lot more blood.” So I made trips to several Smart & Final stores to buy out all the Karo syrup I could find. Finally, after about a week more of pulling apart foam rubber and stirring syrup and dye, we were done. The alligator was stuffed like a tick in a blood bank.
The spewing of copious blood and guts had never looked so beautiful. A fountain of viscera. After the explosion there were congratulatory handshakes for the SFX team. I wasn’t part of that. I may have shaken hands with the assistant’s assistant.
I did, however, have an encounter with the star of the movie. I’d grabbed a seat in a transport van heading from base camp to the sewer set, and a few others hopped on for a ride to another part of the set. The door slid shut, and I realized that I was sitting right next to David Madison himself, the actor Robert Forster. A genuine star. I knew him also from the massively influential Medium Cool and the Marlon Brando movie Reflections in a Golden Eye.
Our shoulders were touching.
I thought I was being smooth, but I guess he felt my stare on him and he said, “Hey, how ya doing this morning?”
To which I replied something like, “I’m . . . you know, I’m, yeah, good, yeah. How are you?” He said he was fine. He introduced himself and we shook.
“Nice to meet you, Bryan. What do you do on this movie?”
He was engaging me in conversation! And he used my name in a sentence! My first name. Not like the foremen shouting CRANSTON! I told him of my duties as a PA with the SFX department and he seemed genuinely interested, or at least he made me feel as though my job had real value. That’s a nice quality in a person: making someone else feel valued—even if that someone is currently on the bottom rung. I made a mental note.
Nice to meet you too, Robert. Look forward to working with you again.
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