16
May
12

which is a better nom de plume: doctor drunkenstein or doctor frankenstoned?

Very few people- Hollywood producers and directors, mostly- knew that for scenes that required a stuntman being engulfed in flames, the stuntman that delivered the highest quality work was actually a woman, and that was exactly the way she wanted it. From her maiden voyage years ago playing the Aryan gang member that got burned up by Delroy Lindo in Blood In Blood Out up until now, as she prepared for one last “fire-walk” that she had come out of retirement for as a favor to a friend, Erin Kukal had not sought out fame or even credit (there had always been someone there ready to snatch it up if she had), but found fulfillment in the simple act of a job well done. The respect of her peers had been sufficient to sustain her.
The money didn’t hurt, either. As her reputation within the stuntman community grew, so had her paychecks. At her peak, she had earned more from that one fight scene in Anchorman than on all those Jean-Claude Van Damme movies combined. She looked in the mirror, conducting a routine visual inspection of the fasteners on her flame-retardant suit, and tried to put thoughts of the risks out of her mind, as this payoff, a promised gig as an on-set consultant on this director’s future projects, stood to dwarf the rest of them. She quieted her subconscious protests by audibly reminding herself of the many successful stunts she had undertaken, with only one brush with significant danger. For that particular assignment, in which she had to run a significant distance while engulfed in flames, she had had to summon even the dregs of her strength and discipline, but the result, that one music video in 1995 that had rendered Beavis and Butt-head unable to form words, had been her finest hour. The one internal question that remained unanswered was how being out of the game for so long would affect her performance. She steeled her nerves. It had always struck her as interesting, the amount of discipline and restraint required to present an illusion of chaos.
It was a lonely life. Over the years, a long line of suitors had been found lacking the qualities she required in a partner, in no small part because she she found those qualities so difficult to define. With her list of candidates narrowed by the tendency of most men to be intimidated by her career choice, her search for companionship had taken her on a strange but heartbreaking journey, populated most notably by characters like the guitarist who drunkenly stepped into the street to take a picture of his metal band’s name on the marquee, then got hit by a car; or the sensitive, confident yoga instructor who had seemed perfect until she snooped through his spotless, sunlight-drenched high-rise apartment, surmising upon stroking the immaculately folded SimplyVera bath towels in his bathroom that to domesticate him would prove an insufficient challenge, and therefore an unsatisfactory prize.
Her trailer door opened and an impatient production assistant entered. She had seen him on set that morning barking orders to a gaggle of background actors like he knew something. This pup had been around the block long enough to have mastered the art of treating his few subordinates with contempt, but not long enough to know the importance of treating a veteran like her with the respect she had earned.
“Safety inspectors are on set, Ms. Kukal. Report to the stunt coordinator in your flame-retardant suit in five minutes.”
“Are my markers down?”
“Don’t worry about that, Ms. Kukal. It’s not your job.”
She stood and addressed him coldly.
“That’s right. If it were my job, it would be done by now. If your director wants a stuntman engulfed in flames today, your ass had better be back here in two minutes with a report on the status of my markers. And this time, knock.”

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