First, my lack of posting has had far less to do with desire than it has to do with laziness and lack of any of my half-formed writing ideas coming together the way I want them to. I explained to my mom the other day why I chose the name Rambling Inner Monologue for this blog; it's a very true description of the way my brain functions. Let's say you have a confrontation with someone and hours later you are replaying the whole thing, word for word, then editing it to have gone exactly the way you wanted, as if scripted to perfection. I feel like I'm always doing that for a dozen situations every day, like I'm my own sitcom voice over, and it has transferred into how I write. As I think about these things and create elaborate dialogues and situations in my mind some will start to solidify and a sentence or several will stick firmly in my head. I'll use those sentences to build an entire post around, thus sharing my mind with you.
See what I mean about rambling? On to today's show...
Thanks to a long chain of fateful events that will, one day, get their own post, I had the opportunity to travel to upstate New York to be an extra in a low budget video game parody movie. I'd only met a few of the people involved in the project but many reputations proceeded the members and friends of X-Strike Studios, one of the most predominant, the reputation of one Matthew Mahoney.
The first two things I ever learned about Mahoney were that he was a marine and he was awesome. Many a story I heard revolved around some crazy, off the wall antics and a friendly-but-don't-mess-with-him attitude. It was easy to see everyone loved him but as I was already nervous and intimidated to be meeting such a large gaggle of people, his stories came across to me as much more concerning than they should have been.
Mahoney showed up late to our long-weekend video shoot party. I'd already met a LOT of people, many whom, to me, had a level of celebrity status, was working hard to remember everyone's name and start relaxing. Mahoney arrived and I watched him from a calculated distance, fascinated to put a face to the already infamous name. He seemed nice enough, but definitely tough, to me further evident when he spent the night (read: passed out) in a lawn chair on the driveway. I don't think of myself as a girlie girl who can't handle less than comfortable arrangements, but anyone who was happy and able to sleep wherever they landed when there was an option of couch crashing indoors was definitely someone I wasn't inclined to mess with.
Early the next morning we started with make up for the just under a dozen extras who needed to become zombies for the day's shoot. While the rest of us were waiting our turn, Mahoney, in his BDUs, military-issued combat boots and vest and black Under Armor, gave us mini stunt lessons on how to properly break-fall as we'd be needing to do a fair bit of it, mostly at his hands. I tried, and failed, to not feel incredibly nervous.
We filled several cars and hoofed it out to an abandoned Boy Scout camp in the woods, stopping to grab one or two plastic covered camp mattresses out of a cabin to use as cushioning, a kind gesture to the newly trained, inexperienced zombie stunt team. On the schedule for the day was an intense zombie attack scene where Mahoney's character, I think more similar to the man playing him than not, would stay behind to try to fend off the attack and buy his companions time to escape. This meant Mahoney would be taking down roughly six zombie extras in very loosely choreographed succession.
The plan was to shoot one attack at a time. The first take we would see how it went when Mahoney attacked the first zombie in the pre-determined method. I stood behind the camera in my assigned place in line as zombie number four, anxiously waiting my turn. Action was called and Mahoney's game face came on full force. He took out the first zombie and without a moment's hesitation grabbed the second zombie, much to everyone's surprise. The scene worked out alright as the second zombie played along incredibly well, especially considering they weren't expecting to be part of the first take. Take two was to try it again, this time with the first and second zombie only. Again action was called and Mahoney nearly growled as he took out zombie number one, number two... and grabbed number three, throwing him to the ground! This scene will forever be etched in my memory as I stood behind zombie number three, who was in a cast having recently broken his arm, and watched in shock as Mahoney grabbed him and threw him unexpectedly and unprepared to the ground.
My entire body shook. Being the next in line was scary enough when your Marine-trained assailant is getting all excited and jumping the gun on the take downs, worse when you realized the way you were scripted to be taken out was by means of broken neck. Now, there was never any real pressure or application of force in the acting of the neck breaking, but Mahoney's very recent history showed he seemed to be acting more on instinct than careful awareness and I was a tad bit worried.
The third take was intentional with all three zombies and I took a large, deliberate step back from the scene. Luckily Mahoney remembered to stop at three and they got the shot they wanted. Then my take came and for the first time I squarely faced Mahoney, one on one, eye to eye. I stared at him, trying to will him with my eyes to not accidentally end me, my jaw set in determination to make sure it was a good shot, no matter how scared I felt. I worried it would be rough and painful but was surprised by how gentle he was. He reached for my head but most of the whipping action came from me and I would fall onto the flimsy camp mat then immediately roll away as a moment later Mahoney would come crashing down to the exact same spot with 3 more zombies on top of him. We did it several times. My body protested but I survived.
I've had the pleasure of spending time with Mahoney several times since that weekend. Once we ended up in the basement of the Alexandria Hilton, completely by accident, and for me it was a far more entertaining experience than it would have if I'd shared it with anyone else. Watching him immediately flip into action mode and sneak down the hall to explore while I laughed and fought the urge to run away will forever be one of my favorite Mahoney Moments.
I'm privileged to call him a friend. He is a joy to spend time with, hysterical and fun, certainly adventurous. My reaction to him now is to give him a giant hug then sit somewhere I can hang on his every spectacular story-telling word. I'm always thrilled to hear about his beautiful wife and children and find comfort knowing he supports my similar endeavors. My initial fear of him now seems absurd but it helped defined the meeting of a person I am blessed to know and will never forget.