[From “HURRICANE”, the uncensored production diary of the making of Susan Hero]
Anyway, just finished polishing the first real scene, the scene between Lonnie and Waseta and their powerful mysterious “moment” together.
Also worked a bit on the arrival of Susan and Javier at the Motel, which I’d previously cut then put aside to ripen and mellow.
Tightened it up, it has some rough edges though due to coverage which I may not be able to fix—but it also has one of the saddest and most real moments I’ve seen so far, a real film moment, no dialogue, just Susan sitting in profile on the bed with Jav in the background something about the awful silence of the shot that really does something…
Finger hurting less in general, but a lumpy knob on the first joint where I cracked the taxi driver in the bone of his brow and cheek; although my main knuckles hit his brow solidly (and split it, so that the ridiculous animal cops who came to interrogate me later took digital photos of the bloody gouge), the taxi slimeball who tried to cheat me, the guy I slugged, tried to weasel $10 out of me for “an injection” because of his wound. With the help of the corrupt gaggle of Cambodian cops who came to the scene and immediately assumed I was “the bad guy”
Not until I dropped the name of my student (no longer my student though), Davuth, from the Ministry of Finance, did they back down and call off the whole episode.
Ah, but quickly (before I go to bed) let me finish the story I started regarding the episode from the other day which burned itself into me.
…So I’d just come back from the lovely boat ride to the islands, and I was lounging with the lobster girl on the beach in Sinnoukeville when I came over to suss the cause of the nearby commotion.
Turns out a foreigner –an American – had passed out in his room at the guesthouse above the bar, and he was unresponsive. His Cambodian wife was freaking out, and soon it became apparent that something very unusual was up, that something was seriously wrong.
I went out to the lane and checked for any police in their little booth; while the motorcycle was there, there were no police to be found.
Meanwhile, the frenzy grew as his wife became more and more frantic. Another foreigner went upstairs to see what was going on, and soon this second guy and another person or two were hauling out a large, shirtless guy in his twenties.
Nearby, oblivious somehow to what was happening, a bearded hippie traveler and his girlfriend haggled over a bracelet. The kid who was selling the bracelet shot a glance or two at the limp body upstairs, but he returned to the task of making his sale to earn his crust: and who could blame him?
They brought the victim as best they could, laboriously, towards the steps, carrying him by his arms and legs. He wore long skateboarder shorts, and no shirt as I said, revealing a tattoo of some kind of lettering which ran down his spine. His head dangled and bobbed with each step.
Now that I saw the guy, and sensed what was going on, I flew without thinking up the stairs of the guesthouse to help. I tried mainly to keep the guy’s head from banging on the steps as we descended.
I’d seen a car out in the lane when I went to look for the cops, and now, rather than waiting for an ambulance which would never arrive, not here in Cambodia, we hauled him out to the car.
“Open the door, NOW! Open it, get him in there!”
Don’t know why, I didn’t know the guy, but time slowed down…we opened the door and I looked down at myself trying to hoist this big, white and blue body into the car. Blue, I say, because his face and lips were now turning blue, his eyes were wide open, fish-like. His mouth hung open, duhhh, a glob of something on his lip.
Things were not looking good.
So we stuffed him into the back seat as best we could, had to just fold his legs up since he was too big to slide in…as we did, I detected an odor.
He’d shat himself before he passed out/OD’d or whatever it was
The car sped away, and the every-darkening blank, blue face of this guy was staring up at me — dying or dead, I didn’t know. The driver drove, and the only other guy in the car hung spellbound in a daze, uncertain as to what to do.
Out of the vault of my mind, I recalled my high school CPS classes. We all had to take CPR, and we practiced at length on each other and on the rubbery torsos of all the Recessa-annie dolls they could muster: strange, female pulmonary torsos who were all caught in the throes of some life-suspending crisis, on whom we had to administer our fledgling CPR techniques.
I still remember those CPR dolls: the plugs of fake hair in the rubbery scalp…the smell of the rubbing alcohol on the twisted mouth…the closed eyes…the moaning, inflating balloon torso…
Meanwhile, I’m in a car speeding past the ridiculous gold lions of sinnoukeville on the way to a Cambodian hospital, and there’s a blue gaping face looking up at me, could be dead or not. Had to act, had to do something.
Gingerly, I reached down and found his sternum, the pace where I’d begin the CPR…
…one and two and three and…
Then I bent down. I hesitated, but the car was speeding and the life was racing out of this guy. I took a deep breath, leaned over to this total stranger, this blue, lifeless stranger—
–and breathed into him.
I forgot to pinch his nose off, though. At first most of my breath escaped. Shit—hadn’t practiced in years. When I did finally get some breath inside him, it rasberried out of him like a flaccid Bronx cheer, bringing with it the smell of booze and an unidentified waxy flower smell.
I continued anyway.
We sped along….now I’m tired and will continue later.
Also: should not I got my NY State checks finally, only $500 bucks, but I’m scraping the peanut butter jar now as it is. Have decided that, when it comes time to assess my time here in Cambodia for this “segment” (come July), I have to have landed some kind of substantial video / doc job to make my continued stay here worthwhile.
I’ve been pitching and sending budgets and emailing my ass off, and now I really need one of these NGO /other docs to come through.
In any case, I’ll continue pouring the hours into Susan Hero, I’m finally in a position to edit, which I’m doing, and I’m loathe to disturb a good thing.