Evanescent – Ukraine: Evening with Jackie Chan (Vigil 4)

By Gennady Bondarenko

Kolya immediately suggested going to the ‘Black Cat’. “Maybe,” he said, “they haven’t finished everything and there are still a couple of drinks remaining for us.” I reassured my friend, telling him about the unexpected editorial generosity. I suggested showing our visiting celebrity the city center and taking some photos in front of the local sights – Admiral Nakhimov’s monument or Grafskaya pier, and so we did, telling our guest along the way, who was who, and why this was here. Jackie Chan listened attentively and obediently posed for photos. He did seem to have heard about our country. For example, he knew that every city here has a monument to Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the anti-globalization revolution. He only wondered why Lenin was in military uniform, with a naval dirk on his side and a telescope in his hand? The question caught me so unaware that for a moment I pondered to myself why Lenin really needed that weapon paired with a telescope.

I didn’t have time to answer. We were already near the column of the Scuttled Ships monument. Here’s where our guest evidently got interested. Under what circumstances, he asked, did the ships sink, and so many at once, or for what reason? I explained as best I could in English, “On purpose to prevent the enemy fleet from entering the city bay.”

“We,” added Kolya, “have such a tradition here, to start something first by breaking everything, and as radically as possible. For example, if we have ships, we sink them first. And why – we’ll figure that out later.”

Our guest was visibly miffed by such a tradition. Then, after reflecting a little, he cheered us and said that it was very much in the spirit of Bushido. “Real heroes indeed behave this way: If you were to choose between life and death, choose death.”

“Oh yes, that explains everything,” we agreed in one voice.

I even was a bit ashamed that I had not come up with such a simple and elegant explanation on my own. The Bushido Code! Our “mysterious Slavic soul” was not alone in this vast world, after all.

We walked at a leisurely pace down Primorsky Boulevard, admiring choppy waves on the autumn sea. Then Kolya stated resolutely: “Yes, our guest is already quite familiar with our city, its architectural features and heroic past. The next move is to meet the local people!”

The ‘Black Cat’ was, quite predictably, crowded as usual. I was not surprised to find our partiers still there too, and not even very drunk. Kolya stopped at the entrance, raised his hands.

“Listen up, folks!” he shouted, and somehow everything immediately quieted down. “Look who I’ve brought here! The great Jackie Chan himself has visited our city and will shoot a movie here!”

After a minute’s pause, people cheered the famous guest and welcomed him to their tables. Everyone in the bar immediately wanted to have a drink with him, or for that matter, with Kolya, as the closest friend of the movie star. Bartender Sasha brought us another couple of vodka bottles, sandwiches and asked for an autograph, which our guest readily signed on the bottle without having to be asked twice. Everyone liked the idea, and Jackie Chan had to sign ten or twelve more bottles. Meanwhile, Kolya and I, as his close friends, left our autographs on several too.

Then, the police came, evidently summoned by someone who thought that we were here to have a fight or an unauthorized demonstration. We explained to the officers that the great kung fu star Jackie Chan was our guest today. He would shoot his next wonderful film in our city, about … in a word, they would see for themselves soon.

The police didn’t believe us at first and politely asked us to lead them to the famous actor. Initially stunned by his fierce appearance and fur hat with a red star, they nevertheless greeted him by shaking hands. Then they too asked for an autograph, on the blank police ticket block. Then, after some quiet consulting among themselves, they said that actually they were not supposed to drink on duty, but on such an occasion …

Jackie Chan took off his fur hat and put it on a nearby chair. It was getting pretty hot in the bar, and a police cap was immediately put on his head. This caused an explosion of cheers again, and Kolya invited everyone to take a collective photo. Thursday, he promised, these pictures would definitely appear on the newspaper’s front page.

All the rest went in episodes for me, like a movie trailer. Here we all drink once again to the health of our guest. Then, for the further flourishing of the friendly People’s Republic of China. Here we are already walking in a cheerful crowd along the Bolshaya Morskaya street in the direction of the hotel and singing songs in Chinese. A police patrol car slowly followed us as an honorary escort.

At the very entrance to the hotel, we handed the movie star over to our acquaintances, the naval sabers. The bodyguards took him by the arms, as he was swaying, but balanced. Kolya and I saluted them in a soldierly manner. In the lobby, we were met by our friend, the girl at the reception. It seemed that this time she was less than happy to see us.

“What have you done!” she exclaimed. “Everyone here is running off their legs looking for him! They even called the police… a foreigner going out to fetch a hat – and disappeared! With all that film shooting, just tomorrow morning, in the mountains at Baydar Gates! Even Jackie Chan himself has inquired where his wardrobe supervisor disappeared.”

We asked, “…who?” and gasped simultaneously. “And who disappeared …? And who then was with us all that time?”

“Come on, guys!” – Katya made a helpless gesture with her hands. “Having that drinking bout, and you don’t even know who you were with? This is Mister Lee, the star’s costume designer. When the fur hat they ordered for tomorrow’s shooting was brought to the hotel entrance, he just went down to pick it up…”

We stood for a moment and then left the hotel without saying a word. It was past midnight and the street was empty. Fumes of alcohol evaporated surprisingly quickly in the fresh night air. For a moment, we breathed silently.

“So, what now?” I asked, addressing more myself. “The editor’s expecting an interview and photos tomorrow. He is burning with impatience to know Jackie Chan’s opinion of our wonderful city. What his impressions are. How he likes it in Ukraine and in Crimea in particular.”

Kolya gave me a pensive look, then smiled, as if it were he who had been asked about his impressions on the night in the city. He glanced at the sleeping houses and the deep night sky twinkling like the glimmers in the nearby sea.

“So what’s the problem? I’ve taken the photos, remember?” he said finally. “And you – yes, you will write about his impressions of our city. You are a reporter, aren’t you? Always at the forefront of events, with all those battleships blowing up and kung fu matters, sharing the most secret techniques! You’ve got it, man… so live up to your story! Besides, the newspaper will come out on Thursday, and the film crew leaves on Wednesday … and he does not read our newspaper anyway, that Jackie Chan! And as for his impressions, what were they? I bet you anything – only the best, that’s for sure!”

Series – Evanescent

January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)

July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)

October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

November: The Writer’s Daughter – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

December: Translation Perfect – Zhang Lu (China)

Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Yalta, Crimea – At night – German S (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

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