I received an e-mail from a mysterious user named MBiehnMovieMartyr56 at 8:45 pm on a Tuesday night, November 1st, 2011. Naturally, I was intrigued. The contents of the e-mail included the sender introducing himself as legendary actor Michael Biehn.
Mr. Biehn said he was a big fan of our website: Adventures in Poor Taste. He didn’t say why and when I asked him why in a reply e-mail he ignored the question and just replied with “Yeah, that Adventure… uh Taste LiveJournal.” When I tried to correct him he feigned ignorance and set up a meeting. He told me that my unique mind would be needed for a mission of “utmost importance.” I told him I could meet him the following night. This was legendary actor Michael Biehn we were talking about, after all. This is the story of our meeting:
I couldn’t wait any longer. Opening the car door and stepping away from the taxi and looking up into that dark and starless sky across which rain went slashing and cascading from rooftops and spitting in the wake of passing vehicles and racing beneath my shoesoles and pooling at curbstones wherein the reflections of city lights quivered like tiny stars, capsized and foundering.
“You sure you want to leave with that guy you’re supposed to be meeting not even so much as showing his stinkin’ face?” the taxi driver asked, feigning compassion.
I nodded and handed him a rumpled twenty dollar bill and hustled to the sidewalk, dress shoes scudding over raindark pavement. I ducked beneath a dripping awning and rolled down my coastsleeve and checked my watch, breath steaming in the cold. Ten past midnight now. What a surprise, the big bad movie star was late. Pampered bastards; thought they were so g-----n important. Leaving a poor guy out here in the cold to shiver his ass off.
My cell phone started rattling off in my coat pocket. I reached in, grabbed it, saw a new text message from some number I didn’t recognize that read, “I’m already inside. Down in the basement. Knock three times on the door. Come alone. And hurry your punk ass up.”
I made my way inside the building. An empty room that may have once been a hotel lobby, and an enormous usher that looked like a cartoon ape with a miniaturized bellhop hat atop his head.
“Uh… hey,” I said. “This the way to uh…”
He nodded. “Yes sir. Mr. B’s been expecting you.” His voice sounded like Michael Clarke Duncan’s from Planet of the Apes.
I looked back at him and smiled uneasily, gave a meek wave of my hand in thanks. Looking back one last time at the outside world with my face nearly splayed against the glass. “Well, here goes nothing.”
Shuffling down a long hallway with frayed and rotting red carpets underfoot, to the mouth of an old staircase. I dragged down the rickety stairs. Little squishing sounds where each waterlogged footstep met old woodpanels and a shoddy banister on my left that shook and leaned and groaned. The windows here blearypaned and obscured the arched ceiling prolapsed, moldcolored, rot infused. The hell was I getting myself into?
The ground here wet with old rainwater, rustcolored twines curdling and unspooling all throughout milkbrown puddles. After passing through an overhanging garden of dead lightbulbs which swayed unevenly from the ceiling like blackened gourds, I finally found the room and knocked on the door a few times. No answer. I waited a minute and knocked again. The door cracked open and this face peeped abruptly from within, lacquered red by some eerie glow:
“Who the hell is it?” he said. “What do you want?” He sounded tired. Like a man at the end of his wits.
“It’s Russ from Adventures in Poor Taste,” I said, gingerly raising my hands over my head like some prisoner of war in the midst of acquiescing.
The rifle muzzle was staring me in the face now. Cold steel prodding my chin. Up close like this it looked wider than the f-----g Ted Williams tunnel. I heard a shuffling sound. Eerily similar to a finger applying pressure to a trigger.
“The website!” I croaked. “You asked me to meet you here. Said you had a very important offer for me.”
He paused. The gun retreated like a wounded animal into the gloom. “Yeah, I knew that,” he said. “Come in.”
The door opened fully and there he stood in murderous silhouette in the doorframe, unwavering. Watching me.
I had to turn sideways and edge past him just to get inside the door. “Thanks for meeting me on such short notice,” I said, patting rain from my coat sleeves. “I’m a really big fan of your work. My little brother has seen probably every movie you’ve ever be-“
“Yeah, whatever. Let’s skip the bullshit and get this over with,” he said. “I’m a busy man.”
A little more rude than he had to be, but maybe he really had called me here for some reason of “utmost importance,” like he had said in the e-mail. I cleared my throat. “Alright. I apologize Micha– er, mister…”
“Mr. Biehn will do just fine,” he said. He was sitting down crosslegged at a little cylindershaped wooden table with the dismantled pieces of the rifle strewn about its surface like rare trinkets for sale at an otherworldly bazaar. I watched him scoop up the pieces into his hands and then stitch the rifle back together with a series of clicking sounds, his fingers tending to and wiggling on either side of the thing as if it were some vast, mechanical Rubik’s cube.
There was an old computer in one corner. It was playing this video on mute. On repeat:
When he saw my gaze transfixed on the screen he leaned over and turned off the monitor and rubbed his hands together gingerly like a homeless man in front of a fire.
“Now, let’s get down to business,” he said. “Say you’re alot more fit looking than I thought you’d be in person. Then again, judging from the snapshots on your little website, I had you all pegged as morbidly obese slugs.”
“Yeah, I’ve been working -“
“Oh, that’s very uninteresting,” he said. We just stood there looking at each other. He with his eyes narrowed to little triagonal slits and myself with a nervous brow arched, my weight balanced carefully on the balls of my feet as if I were in the presence of some capricious jungle animal.
Then finally Micha — er, Mr. Biehn spoke again. “So as you know,” he said, “I’m not getting any younger. And in my old age, I’ve been thinking. Always thinking.”
“What’s been on your min-“
“Will you shut up and let me finish?”
He reached for the waistband of his jeans, two lean fingers pinched and playing with the apex of the glinting zipper. “Do you know what it’s like to get old?” he said. “Do you know how sparse your damn pubic hair gets?”
I cringed and looked away. “God no.”
He laughed, his hands slapping down on the table. “I’m just messing with you. Look, I’ll tell you why you’re here. As I was saying… before you opened up your barbarous mouth and interrupted me, I’m not getting any younger. Consequently, I’ve been thinking about making my final film; a film that will forever etch me in the annals of time; one that will perpetuate my very legacy.”
I scratched my head.
“You don’t know what I’m talking about do you, you little sewer urchin? You g-----n miscreant.” A lamp in the corner flickered once, made a sound like a bug zapper, then burned brightly to life once more. “I’m a martyr, kid. That’s my motif in the world of cinema. For God’s sake, that is my destiny, don’t you realize that?”
I laughed, reminded of the speech Lieutenant Dan gave in the Forrest Gump movie. “Good one Mr. Biehn. I forgot how funny you can be sometimes in your movies.”
“Does this look like the face of a man that’s trying to be f-----g funny?” he snarled. He was staring at me, humped over in his chair, his figure suddenly thin and emaciate looking beneath the ragged jacket he wore. As if some great age had suddenly come upon him.
“Uh. No, of course not,” I said. Stammering. Had his face really aged that considerably in those past five minutes or was I just imagining things? The guy was what… in his mid 50s now?
“Can you even name the damn movies I’ve died in? For f--k’s sake I die for you thankless little pukes over and over again in the vein of some cinematic Christ figure and all you can manage to do is prattle off some dumb bullshit. Real shining example of journalism you are.”
“Doesn’t that guy Sean Bean die in a lot of his movies too? Just as many as you?” I said.
“What? No. No. The guy’s a second rate hack that doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as me. A second rate hack of movie martyring. A Bush League demise impersonator. Now name some of the movies that I die in.”
“Uh well, I know you die in Tombstone. Just blown away as the infamous Johnny Ringo. And in The Rock. That one’s actually pretty cool. ‘I will not give that order!’ ‘I’m not going to repeat that order!’ ‘STAND DOWN!’ Then like 90 Marines plug you full of holes. Um… and then in Alien 3… well, I guess you aren’t really in that one are you?”
“No. No I’m not. But that just goes to show you. I’m not even in the damn movie and yet they kill my character off in what is essentially the opening credits. That’s how synonymous with unceremoniously dying I am.”
“I understand the irony that your character is killed off in literally every movie you’ve ever been in… but what does that have to do with me?”
“You’ll see. Now where was I? Right. Terminator, 1984. Well everyone knows that one, I suppose. A little movie I made with a then no-name bodybuilder that came to be known as a cult classic. I got bludgeoned to death by Arnold’s metal T-800 fists after I came back in time and f----d the stuffing out of Sarah Connor in a way that only a freak nasty futuristic resistance fighter could manage to pull off. I researched that role for about 6 weeks prior to filming. Just going over the actual positions in my head, alone, with others. Tried to get into the real mindset of how a time-traveling revolutionary would actually bang a trepidatious, big-haired milf. And you know what? Turned out to be one of my finest roles. I really nailed it.”
He let those last few words linger. He looked up and paused after like he wanted to laugh but there came only a crazed grin cracking all across his face like his skin was made of some strange porcelain and something had crashed into it.
“It’s ironic isn’t it?” he asked.
“You’d figure that people in the future would be like perverse caricatures of the Jetsons, screwing each other with photon lasers and shoving their junk in artificial twats that smell like cinnamon buns and that are shaped like… cinnamon buns. But it’s just the opposite. In fact, that very scene hearkens back to the days of our progenitors making every last hump count before a sabretooth tiger leapt out of the bushes and skewered their insides with gargantuan and rapacious incisors. That’s what my sex scene was like. If you pay attention closely, I mean really watch it, you’ll see what I’m talking about. The constrained urgency within each violent pelvic thrust. Two scared people from different epochs in time unclothed, sweating the sweat of horny demons, breathing loudly, their passion mounting.” His eyes looked past me now, his chest puffed out grotesquely with excitement.
“I, uh, never really thought about it that intensely,” I said, smiling and nodding. I wasn’t sure if he still thought we were the only two people in the room or if he spoke now to some phantom audience the likes of which I could never comprehend.
I looked up and rubbed my eyes in disbelief. He was now wearing a black, widebrimmed cowboy hat. His facial features had seemingly reversed in age. As if in the relation of his tale he had somehow reclaimed his youth.
“Where did you… when did y-”
“Tombstone, 1993,” he continued, ignoring my questions. “I get shot in the damn head by Doc Holiday. An honorable death If I’ve ever heard of one. Blood of the Hunter, 1995; I get ravaged by a pack of wild f-----g dogs. They tear my body to shreds while gouts of my very lifeblood obscure and stain the snow underfoot. The Abyss, 1988; I play Lt. Hiram Coffey. Did you see my mustache in that? If you looked up robust mustache in the dictionary… they’d have a picture of my mustache from that movie.”
“I’ve never… I don’t think that’s in the dictionary.”
“Before I meet my demise my head resembles that of some deranged and sweat-ridden Mr. Potato Head… being crushed. The Rock, as you so astutely mentioned, in which I am riddled by myriad machine gun bullets by my very own compatriots.” The more he spoke about his movies and his myriad deaths, the younger he seemed to look. His face as incandescent as some vampire with romantic, sexy thoughts.
“So you see, in all those films there is one binding element. My aforementioned death. And that’s why I called you here,” he said. “Like I said. I came across your little website…”
I felt a s--t-eating grin form from ear to ear. “I just wanted to say, I’m honored that you’ve heard of us… say, what did you think of that article I wrote ab-”
“Oh what did I think about that article? Not a damn thing if you want my honest opinion. Not one thought or brain synapse was wasted on your glorified LiveJournal. I’m sure it was just a riveting and enlightening treatise, kid. To be honest, I didn’t read one word on that little web live journal diary of yours. By “seen” your website what I meant is that someone told me it was disgusting and obscene and did not in any way contribute to society or to what could be mistaken by any human being for even one second as rational thought. That they had never seen a purportedly sane human being ever conceive of such atrocities without actually being locked in a padded room in some high security asylum.”
“Oh. Well how nice of them.”
“Yeah, that someone was actually me. I hated your website. Besides, there’s way too many swears. If something is funny you won’t have to say ‘f--k’ or ‘s--t’ or ‘cock’ or ‘dicks’ or ‘anal fisting’ or ‘ménage à quatre.’ It’ll just be funny on its own. That’s something you and your little LiveJournal cohorts can stand to learn.”
I wanted to tell him that no one had used LiveJournal since the dawn of the new millennium and that he had cursed more times than a truck driver the moment I set foot inside the door. I did.
“Yeah, well,” he said. “Whatever. I guess I don’t know as much about the ol’ interwebs as I’d like to believe, alright? And your foul language must’ve rubbed off on me or something.”
“Well what did you expect from a website called Adventures in Poor Taste anyways? Epic prose of Billy Shakesperian proportions?”
“Look kid, you want to hear my idea or not?”
I sighed. I’d been sitting through his insane ramblings all night hoping for just that thing. “Of course,” I said. But still, I had to wonder… “Why me of all people though?”
“Because no human being with even a shred of self-worth or self respect would even consider helping me with what I’ve got planned.”
“Hey look, if this involves me getting naked and pretending to be Sarah Connor then you can just count me out.”
He laughed for the first time, though the emotion plastered on his face seemed the opposite, like a man laughing nervously under some great anguish. And oh yeah, he had inexplicably grown a robust mustache that spanned the length of his face like a dark, unfurling vine.
“No, I want you to be the one filming it. This snuff film.”
“Don’t play f-----g dumb, kid. Snuff film, where they film an actual murder. No special effects. No camera tricks. Just real murder. We’re gonna plan the perfect snuff for ol’ Biehnsy.”
“I know what a snuff film is, unfortunately. I just repeated you aloud for the fact that your idea is batshit crazy. And let’s say I for some reason even decide go along with it. Would it be safe to say I would be in a fair bit of trouble? You know, incarcerated for the rest of my life for murder… something along those lines?”
“That’s why I’m going to make a disclaimer at the beginning just nicely dissociating you from the crime in any way whatsoever.”
“You’re going to mention my name as the cameraman?”
“I’d just… prefer you didn’t say my name at all and incriminate me in any way is what I’m saying.”
This time he was the one to scratch his head. Then he asked, while twirling his mustache between two fingers the whole time, “So what sort of ideas you got? How should the ol’ Biehnsy exit the stage for the last time? Come on. I know you got some ideas swirling around in that f----d up brain of yours. What sort of ideas, huh?”
“None whatsoever. I am not doing this. Nor will I partake in any way. If anyone asks me if I came here tonight… I’m going to make up a lie, if I can be frank.”
“Alright, well we’ll talk about this later. I’ll be in contact.”
“No you won’t.”
“Say you like video games, kid?”
“I said, ‘Say you like video games, kid?”
“Try this on for size,” he said. Producing a walletsized picture from his pocket. He held it up to his chest for a moment, coddled it like a small infant. Then he just held it front of him, tracing his fingers along the images with his eyes closed, as if they might be some sort of strange, newfound Braille.
“You mind turning it a little bit so I can see what you’re asking me to ‘try on for size?'”
“Oh, yeah. Sure. Yeah. Look.” He turned the photo around and let me take a look.
“That’s the cover to the original Metal Gear from 1987. Solid Snake. Everyone thinks Solid Snake is so f-----g bad ass, right? Well he’s based on me! That’s me from the Terminator, the inspiration if you will.”
“Same f-----g hip pouch and everything.”
Before I had time to respond he had tucked the picture back away into his pocket. “Hey kid, take a look at this,” he said, pointing to a poster on his wall that I hadn’t noticed earlier:
“Oh,” I said. “That’s nice. But what does that have to do with anything?”
“Not a damn thing. You know that little article you’re putting up on that blog of yours, though? It’s a bunch of boring walls of text accompanied by nothing but various close-up pictures of my face. Just seems… really gay. Gay and terrible. Even for you.”
I scratched my head again.
“I’m being clairvoyant, you little twit, in telling you that the article you write about this very encounter we’re having right now will be vastly mediocre, you will never make a dime from your writing, and that I clandestinely put this picture up here on the wall when you weren’t looking so that you don’t look like an even bigger queer than you already are.”
Then he was gone. I peered at the window, vaguely made out his dark silhouette moving against the illshapen cityscape. Rubbing once at that fogbleared windowpane with my coatsleeve and peering through the newformed viewing hole, watching as Mr. Biehn set forth in the dim moonlight, clandestine, his footsteps erratic and wild and his lean form all angular and composed in some otherworldly dance as he sidestepped puddles and his movements so vigorous and quick they seemed charged with a madness that only the fellow mad might dare appreciate.
I watched him fade from view. We could stand to learn alot from each other, this inscrutable actor and I. I rubbed my chin, and farted. Twice. I let out a sigh of relief. I’d been holding those in since the moment I first walked in the door. Then I held my head in my hands and wept inconsolably, pondering the nature of this thing we consider life.
Russ still thinks it’s bullshit that they killed off Corporal Dwayne Hicks of the Colonial Marines in the opening scene of Alien 3.