the true stories
It started as a usual Monday. I picked up Lars at his apartment in North Vancouver and we made our way in the old postal vehicle my boss had bought at auction to his warehouse on Esplanade. It lay across from the Burrard Dry Docks and Shipyard. You could hear the clang from our warehouse as three chip-scows were being fabricated.
The operation had employed as many as 14,000 people in its day who had built myriad ships with a count just shy of 500 by 1988. The St Roch was built there, the first ship to circumnavigate North America and the first ship to navigate the Northwest Passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Victory freighters were turned out here faster than Großadmiral Karl Dönitz could sink them.
As I write, men with vision have all but succeeded in turning it into condominiums and tourist-trap markets. I'm glad I didn't know that as I parked and unlocked the front door. There was much commotion in the warehouse next door. A fleet of odd vehicles assembled as we were turning on the lights and preparing our supplies for the day. As we loaded our rig with pipe, fittings, sheet-metal and appliances the collection of trailers grew.
I was at a loss as to who these people were. Men scurried to and fro unloading equipment and miles of cable. The only thing I had seen similar was when an outdoor stage was being prepared for a multi-day concert. At length, Lars figured it out. It was a movie company setting up for a shoot. The location was the interior of the neighboring warehouse. The two of us watched for a bit and Lars asked one young man what was the movie they were shooting.
The film was to be called “Motherlode”. It was about a crazed lone Scottish miner searching for El Dorado in British Columbia. When we asked who was the star, we were quickly told that Charlton Heston was playing the miner and some gal named Kim Basinger and a fellow named Mancuso were also in the film. I'd never heard of the youngsters but I sure knew my Moses! I asked an electrician if Charlton was coming that day. The answer was yes. Lars asked about Kim Basinger and was very sad when he was informed that she wasn't in the scene being shot that day.
To cheer him up I began exchanging snippets of Ten Commandments dialogue as we loaded our truck. Soon, Lars was Yul Brynner in the character of Ramses II with a sheet-metal crown and I marched around with a length of one inch gas-pipe threatening to turn it into a serpent if Lars didn't let my people go. We still had some time before the boss was due to appear and we decided to wait for Charlie to come on set.
When the loading was done and we were having our first sip of thermos coffee, Lars went to the doorway, pacing leopard-like, ever the Pharaoh.
Presently he came back to the sheet-metal brake which served as our table. Legs splayed and hands on his hips, he bellowed, “Moses, those bastiges are lining up for breakfast and I'll be plagued by frogs if I don't join them. We work harder than those guys and they are on our turf. Are you with me?”
When it came to mischief, Lars was usually the young Scipio and I was usually the elder Fabianus. In contrast to those actual men, we complemented each other, rather than attempting to cancel each other out. It was decided that we take Carthage at once. I strode to the window with my staff and had a look. A huge gourmet catering truck had lifted its flaps and was dishing out omelets worthy of a five-star hotel. I studied the line up for awhile.
Presently, I turned to my young partner. I had an idea. I went to the laundry bag and pulled out two sets of dirty blue boiler suits. They belonged to the gas-fitter employed by my boss's warehouse partner. Our boss thought them too expensive so we dressed in our own grease stained jeans and work shirts. I tossed one pair to Lars and began to pull on another.
“Put these robes on, Son and I will take you to the mountain of Hollandaise.”
Ramses grinned and removed his crown. After a briefing we were ready to infiltrate.
“What are we?”
“What are the names of our Gods?”
“Volt, Amp and Ohm.”
“What do we seek?”
“Brekkie and word of lady Kim.”
We streamed out our door and joined the long line of technicians. Everyone had blue coveralls and all attention was to the interior of the warehouse whose door had been flung wide to reveal a fake mineshaft. There, surrounded by a small coterie of people in street clothes was Mr. Heston. He had a graying beard and wore suspenders instead of a robe but all I saw was Moses, El Cid and Ben Hur.
Lars piled his plate with waffles and kid-stuff and I ordered four eggs on Rusks with Crab Hollandaise and enough bacon rashers to hide them under. We took our bounty into the set and milled about listening to Heston and the other cast-members discuss their objectives. We never approached him for an autograph due to being under-cover. I found it far more interesting to observe the man in his natural environment acting naturally, rather than playing himself to fans.
We went back for some espresso coffee and had a smoke out on the driveway. Presently, the technicians were being told to get to work by their foreman. Lars winked and we crab-walked over the few yards to our own door and removed the boiler-suits inside. We had just pulled out of the driveway when the boss rolled in. We tooted our horn and went to meet the day. It was going to be a good one.
Copyright © 2019 by Michael A. Hawes. All Rights Reserved.
Michael Hawes was born in Texas, raised in Louisiana and lives in British Columbia.