Stalking the Average Man
Three hours off the plane from working my first war, I was telling tales in the Cellar Blues Bar
in an effort to come to terms with what I had seen; my mouth ran freely from fresh scents of death
and obscene scenery for hours.
As colleagues fell silent, and subdued barmaids quietly served us, I began borrowing from
=bang-bang‘ folklore to create the sense of pending danger and revulsion that I had yet to realize
isolated me from their world. And when an otherwise indifferent beauty finally embraced the idea
that I was a fascinating man, the template for my posttraumatic behavior was set.
Ironically, maybe inevitably, by my sixth sojourn into man‘s dark side I was enduring real
incidents I had previously borrowed from now familiar international crews, and had talked about at
the Cellar as if they were my experiences. Then I had a déjà vu event: I was so familiar with what
was happening that I had no doubt about the outcome. As a free spirit working in the staid business
of television news it did not cross my mind that I had become far too familiar with irrational
circumstances. To the contrary, I thought I was becoming uncommonly wise.
My twelfth foray into the madness became my last, when the winds of change blew a tornado
across my path in the form of British Immigration authorities denying my work visa renewal. This
unexpected event caused me to fly to Vancouver, Canada, to see my best friend, Ed, and to check
out the freelance market for soundmen.
During this short stay, my polished tales of crappy ways to live and die enthralled his friend,
Tom, an executive at a post-production company, who subsequently offered me contact numbers in
the film and television industry. He also suggested that my experiences would make an excellent
screenplay, an observation I received as schmoozing from a shameless visionary seeding new
Ultimately, I stuffed my worldly possessions into three nylon sail bags, and carrying an
electronic typewriter boarded a flight to my hometown, Toronto, only because I knew more people
in the industry there. This reasoning turned out to be problematic because events had changed me,
and sixteen months later, I was again considering moving to Vancouver. A regular call from Ed,
reminding me that he‘d put me up gratis was a strong draw.
By this time I had stopped writing a book about covering wars, to script an innocuous
screenplay about helicopter pilots working in bush country: on the suggestion of a good friend and
mentor, I had applied for and been awarded a New Screenwriters Development Grant, which
tipped the scales for me.
I landed in Vancouver with a fifty percent advance toward expenses, six months to complete
my project, and nothing standing in my way except my penchant to follow =insightful‘ flashes that
invariably led me away from developing established elements of my plot. As a result, I lost
valuable time trying to make these flashes relevant to my climatic surprise, which, as it turned out
was on me: with only three weeks to go, elements of the insights I had individually coaxed into my
story merged to allude to a better climax than I had been crafting.
I was not as concerned about getting the balance of the money, as I felt gutted by the fizzle of
an ending that screwed up the potential references offered by the review committee. This meant I
had to consign my first professional credit to silence, and start over.
Ed saw that I was troubled, by what he didn‘t ask, and on his dime he invited me to join him,
Tom, and two others at the Avalon Gentleman‘s Club to help me find a broader view of life than
my own colon was providing.
Fortuitously, nearing the end of this evening Tom made a double entendre comment intended
to have me speak about my version of the bang-bang, and I told him about an incident in a place I
called Goodbye. Because it ultimately involved helicopters, this tale led me to explaining the