57. Gangland Stories

I relax into life into Cambodia.

Every day I’m in a coffee shop working on my screenplay.

The Judge of Petticoat Lane.

The Judge is a feature length screenplay based on my short story Man or Mouse which won the Writers Forum Prize for Short Fiction – described by author Sue Moorcroft as having:

Fabulously vivid characters and dialogue that dances off the page.

BAFTA nominated producer Andrew Bonner had optioned both the short screenplay and the feature length script, and we would Skype every six months or so to discuss the story and ways the script could be improved.

Jimmy Henderson (Prey, Jailbreak) and Amit Dubey (Mind Cage, Spirit) both successful filmmakers working in Cambodia, had discussed making Man or Mouse in Cambodia. I’d  declined as I felt it was a quintessential London story, based on my time in my early twenties in gangland London, where I’d fallen in with a cockney gang of vigilantes.

Plus, Andrew Bonner had already optioned the screenplay. Andrew had worked on the Anthony Minghella movie Cold Mountain with Ian White, one of the producers of The Killing Fields.

Man or Mouse had been a major turning point in my journey as a writer.

It won another prize with Spread the Word in England. 

Praise came from all directions:

Caroline Lawrence wrote “Guy Ritchie would love this.”

Andrew Bonner called it “Dark, raw and blackly comic.”

Spread the Word had said: “A genuine talent.”

Words like these are treasure to a writer and we cling to them like a raft in the rapids until the next critical praise comes in.

Little did I know that the experience this story was based on – my 3 years or so involved in gangland London – was a training ground for what would face me 25 years later as a missionary in Phnom Penh.

God had prepared me, even before I was a Christian, for gangland Phnom Penh.

When God needed someone deep underground in gangland Cambodia, who else could he send?

Who else was stupid enough to go alone into enemy territory to fight Satan in his own battleground?

He needed someone who had been ‘there’ before…

He had prepared me in advance for the work he needed me to do:

I was street tough.

I do not run.

I stand firm in the face of adversity.

I had already been a homeless junkie in London town, first a coke then a crack addict.

I had been around some of the toughest gangsters in London – white and black.

Cockneys and Yardies.

But God had delivered me.

When I read all about the sex trafficking issue in Cambodia God knew what He was doing.

God knew my heart.

He knew I would die to protect a child.

Just as Jesus Christ had sacrificed himself for me I was willing to sacrifice myself to rescue a child from sex trafficking.

He needed someone who He knew could wade deep into the mire, unfazed by street gang culture i.e sex, drugs and violence – but this time, He would be with me, to rescue me when I was out of my depth.

So, 10 years later, homeless, penniless, abandoned by my friends and family and the church – left alone to rot and die on the streets of Phnom Penh, about to be arrested for a gram of crystal meth that had been planted on me by the Bong Thom, about to be jailed for 5-10 years in Cambodia’s notorious Prey Sar prison, where was God now?

If He had sent me, surely He would rescue me.. wouldn’t He?

Download Man or Mouse from Amazon.

Author: Mark Dark

Actor Teacher Writer Breaking Bad for Christ – a Novel. Actor turned Christian missionary turns his back on his Hollywood dreams to combat sex trafficking in Cambodia – and finds himself deep underground in a dangerous world of drugs, gangs and violence. Based on a true story. https://steveedwardsthoughts.wordpress.com/

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