“THE numbers go to prison. They kill each other because of this number. The number is like a germ… We all got it in us. People die every day because of this number.”
The speaker is former 28s gangster Ernie “Lastig” Solomon and he is saying this at the end of a film about his life.
A Lucky Man, written and directed by Gordon Clark and produced by Mark Fyfe, is expected to go on circuit soon.
In the final spellbinding scene, Solomon stares straight ahead, his gold teeth glinting as he speaks, and a scar visible on the left side of his face. He says he got the scar when he was young and “a number”.
“I’m 54 years old now. All my life I’m losing friends.”
Solomon never thinks about the day he dies, but when he does die, his relatives will weep. “Look at the graveyards. All the graveyards are full of youngsters because of the number... The number is not real.”
Solomon says that, in a bid to stay alive, he does not tell his friends where he sleeps.
He says speaking out is “part of my medicine”.
Clark said he and Fyfe met Solomon about four years ago.
“A couple of things struck me. Here’s a guy with a Standard 1 education, he’s very engaging – when he met us he (wanted to know about our backgrounds),” Clark said.
Solomon had started talking to them about his experiences and the pair began filming his “little testimonials”. From these they extracted stories and began writing a script. “Ernie said ‘You should make a story about me’,” Clark said.
Private investors helped fund the “tiny budget” movie, which had a crew of five.
Clark and Fyfe worked closely with Solomon and removed certain scenes and aspects that Solomon said “could start a war”.
While the movie was being made, one of Solomon’s friends, Hilton, who had provided input for the film, was shot dead. “After Hilton died, Ernie was willing to talk,” Clark said.
It was then that Solomon spoke about the number and the ending was filmed.