(This is a little bit of newly written stuff fluffed out with a WHOLE lot of the 16,000 word failure that preceded it. If it comes off as lumpy and nonsensical, well, shit. There is a reason. Enjoy)


The Sheik and I, we’re sipping cocktails at The Broken Promise, and he’s looking over my shoulder while I’m writing, and he’s feeding me bad story ideas.

“Dude,” he says, lifting a glass of something that’s blue and swirly, “you need a fight scene here. I can feel it.” He sips from the glass and tilts his head back and the lights that hover around the bar’s ceiling reflect back in the mirrored lenses of his aviator shades. “A fight scene,” his lips stained blue by the whatever in the glass, “or a love scene. Just a kiss or a shove would do it.”

“Something subtle like that, huh?”

“Yeah, yeah.” He nods and the lights pick up the gel he uses in his hair, pure white sliding through jet black. It’s very, very movie. Very arranged, planned, very much figured out in advance. The Sheik doesn’t take a breath that wasn’t calculated for effect a week before he took it.

“A girl. Or a bad guy. Either way, you’ve got desire, right? And desire is what?”

Desire is the meat of the story. Sheik Europa Story Lesson #1.

If you believe him, the Sheik is the one responsible for Baywatch. Not the heroic-lifeguards-having-drama-on-the-beach part, which could have come from anywhere, but the slow-motion-running, silicone-injected, Playboy-Bunny-meets-Calvin-Klein-model part of Baywatch.

Also, he’s responsible for the lingering American fascination for feng shui. Probably also for the almost complete confusion as to the purpose and point of feng shui for most Americans caught up in the fascination.

Also, for one of the asteroid movies that hit a while back, but not the big one with Bruce Willis. The other one, with Morgan Freeman as the President. And he claims that he came up with Die Hard. “Man, I knew that was gonna just kick some ass. Had Bruce in mind the whole time. ‘Yippee-kayo, motherfucker.’ All me, Davey.”

I don’t blame the Sheik for feeding me shitty ideas (“Davey, listen, cyborgs, right? But not just cyborgs, a cyborg love story. They’ll just eat it up.” “What about Blade Runner? That was all cyborgs and love.” “ Yeah, but that was like twenty years ago. Who remembers?”), ‘cause that’s what he does.

Some of the Sheik’s movie ideas:

An alien comes to visit Earth in the guise of a travelling salesman and interacts with a human family that’s in a very rocky situation (divorce is looming for Mom & Dad, sis is becoming withdrawn and refuses to go to the Big Dance with the not-handsome but sensitive poet-boy because she’s afraid that the popular girls will laugh at her and Jr. is getting in fistfights and has been clipped by the cops for spraying graffiti on the school) and the alien, in the course of his interaction (under the guise of selling them aluminum siding for their twelve-year-old split-level ranch), shows them all sorts of fantastic things about themselves and manages to compress about fifteen years worth of family therapy into three wonderful days and saves them all (Mom & Dad kissing and giggling like newlyweds, sis coming down the stairs in her white satin gown, jr. learning to channel his adolescent angst into community-help projects and shifts down at the soup kitchen). The last scene shows the alien riding in his spaceship, announcing to his leaders back home that because the human race is so wonderful, they shouldn’t be destroyed by a screaming invasion fleet armed with h-bombs & death-lasers. The Sheik considers this to be “a tender story about real family values, with an unexpected twist.”

We open with former Green Beret/current CIA operative Eric Savage in the final stages of a covert anti-terrorist mission (allowing an opening montage set in an unnamed Middle Eastern city that incorporates a car/motorcycle chase, a daring leap between a mosque and an office building, a gunfight in which six swarthy men with heavy beards are blown apart in unique ways [primarily in slow motion with many squishy sound effects] and a last-minute escape hidden in the back of a crowded, smoking bus that is filled with old women in head scarves [who are somehow blissfully unaware of a 6’3” blonde-haired, blue-eyed spy crouched among their bundles of cloth and caged chickens]). He arrives at the American embassy only to find that his girlfriend (a scientist working in the secret anti-WMD lab in the embassy’s basement, played by uber-hottie Rebecca Romjin) has been kidnapped by members of the terrorist cell Eric has just been working to destroy. Eric’s boss briefs him, tells him that other agents are already searching for her and then sternly warns him that “any action you take against these bastards will be considered an act of insubordination, so just stay put.”

“But how the HELL can I sit still when Courtney is out there, somewhere, going through God only knows what kind of torture?”

“You can sit still because you’re a professional, Savage, and a professional knows better than to get into a situation where the heart is involved.”

Grudgingly, Eric admits to his boss’s wisdom, leaves the office and makes a beeline for the lab where he finds Skye, Courtney’s bestest pal in the whole world (played by uber-cutie Kirstin Dunst) weeping uncontrollably, bent over a beaker- and computer-covered lab table. Enlisting Skye’s help, Eric secures about his person the most sophisticated armament and ordnance the U.S. of A. has to offer and sneaks out of the embassy, right under the noses of two Marine guards who’re deep in a discussion about the new girl at the reception desk.

This is followed by forty minutes of almost random violence and no fewer than twenty-two homicides perpetrated by, among others: neck-breaking by hand, neck-breaking by impromptu hanging, asphyxiation by plastic shopping bag, asphyxiation by nerve gas concealed in Tic-Tac box, skull injury by fountain-pen laser gun, skull injury by brick, skull injury by commandeered AK-47, chest injury with CIA-issued 9mm, grievous bodily harm by high-speed automobile, grievous bodily harm by martial arts, grievous bodily harm by impact with plate-glass window, grievous bodily harm by flinging from top of twenty-story tenement, and, my personal favorite, grievous bodily harm by hand grenade suppository.

Skye is in radio contact the entire time (for some reason, the radio she’s using to contact Eric is situated in her bedroom, in which she apparently relaxes by putting on a tank top and a pair of thong underwear and curling up on her bed), telling Eric when the cops are coming and feeding him key bits of information from her laptop (which, if one uses deductive reasoning, must have a direct landline to the CIA mainframe, the Building & Planning authorities for most of the Middle East and the Anarchist Bible’s database of common household products that explode when mixed together properly).

Somehow all these killings lead Eric to the terrorist’s base, where he spies the love of his life tied to a chair, her skirt torn off at upper thigh, her white blouse soaked with water (a nearby car battery and set of alligator clips explains the need for moistened clothing and keeps a clearly defined nipple in the closeup from being gratuitous). She’s bruised over one eye, but is in otherwise okay shape. And, amazingly, stays in okay shape when Eric starts shooting up the place with a top secret shoulder-mounted machine gun that (the Sheik had a stroke of genius here) fires spent-uranium slugs. Like tank shells, only little (and, one would think, dense & therefore quite heavy, but Eric’s pretty fucking strong). And that’s pretty much it except for a swordfight (“A swordfight, man?” “Sure, Davey. Because sometimes, you can’t do what’s right unless you’ve got bare steel.” He said that. I swear) with the terrorist leader after all his minions have either gone to that great training camp in the sky or run off, screaming for Allah and dropping their rifles.

End with a tearful, hug-heavy reunion between Eric & Courtney (followed up by another between Courtney & Skye [who managed to appear on the spot about thirty seconds after Courtney had been cut free from the chair], allowing just that slim chance that Eric’ll be getting himself a three-way at some point in the very near future). In the Sheik’s words, “Bound to be an action-adventure classic, if we can just secure the financing.”

Clarence Badge is a former gangstah from the South Bronx who gave up banging, went back to school, graduated top of his class from Columbia Biz, made a tidy fortune on the stock market and then, to give back something to the city that spawned him, joined the police department and immediately shot up to the rank of detective, due to his amazing skill at figuring out the movements of killers and dealers (I would guess that his time “on the streets” gave him an edge over all the cops who’d spent years walking beats and learning what passes for proper police procedure in NYC). Jimbo Honor is a fresh-faced twenty-something from Oklahoma whose previous police experience included chasing down cow tippers and giving the town drunk a ride home after a hard night at the local saloon, but his uncle (the NYPD police Commissioner) thinks that he’s got what it takes to make it good in the Street Crime division. Apart, Clarence & Jimbo are just a rich guy and a hayseed. Together, they’re BADGE OF HONOR.

Yeah. That’s as far as I got. The Sheik kept talking, but, really, I was done listening.

And, finally, there’s the story of a kindly old grocery store owner who gives out lollipops to the kids in the neighborhood and knows all his customers by name. And who hears voices in his head, and when those voices get too loud…out comes the meat cleaver.

Wish I were kidding.

So, yeah, as much as I appreciate all the Sheik’s done for me since I got here, I’m pretty sure his continued presence is putting me through some sort of dumbing-down process. Christ help me if he is, as he likes to hint, my muse. What happened to muses being pretty blonde nymphs who spoke in poetry?