Fiction from NER 35.2.
No man knows his apotheosis. Carl Jung said that. No man knows his apotheosis, but I know mine. That particular deal went down in the scrubby jungle outside of Rivas. This was in Nicaragua, in 1987. I can tell you the day and even the hour. April 22, 1:00 p.m., the high point of my life. At noon that day, the producers fired Alec Litwer-Bowen as director. Alec had recommended a two-million-dollar line of credit, to be spent in-country, which made sense. The US Embargo made the usual studio transactions impossible. When Alec arrived in Nicaragua, he handed a million dollars over to the Sandinista government. It would have been a bargain; government support in the form of reliable cars, trucks, gasoline, construction equipment, soldiers, helicopters, boats, soldiers, extras, and rare goods like plywood and other necessities for sets would be worth well beyond that sum. The bonding company, which should never have known about this transaction, got squeezed by the Reagan administration and demanded that the producers shut the movie or fire Alec. They fired Alec, at least that is what we assumed. Alec had disappeared and the studio publicists began cranking up the creative-differences-agree-to-disagree machine. It was quite a concert back in LA; the rumor machine began a bass murmur of overdoses and breakdowns while contracts and legal whistled moral turpitude. Meantime, the studio tried to recruit an A, B, or even C-list director. No one would touch it; the bad juju taint was out on this one. I was right place, right time. I was the writer, I was second-unit assistant director, I’d made a short, I spoke Spanish. Mostly, I was there. They handed me the swagger stick, the metaphorical pith helmet and megaphone. Traditionally, a transition like this would be noted by a newly stenciled parking space and a folding chair with my name on the back: Dale Davis, Director.
Lou Mathews’s story “Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others” is from a shiny new manuscript, Hollywoodski, stories by and about Dale Davis, a self-described “faded screenwriter.” Another story from Hollywoodski,“Not Oliver Stone,” will be published in Black Clock #19 this November. Mathews’s work has also appeared in Tin House, Failbetter, Mother Jones, Short Story, and The Pushcart Prize. His first novel, L.A. Breakdown (Malvern, 1999), was a Los Angeles Times Best Book.