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The pat hobby stories, p.12

The Pat Hobby Stories, page 12


The Pat Hobby Stories

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'You have a most remarkable memory. Are you sure you have the

  right picture--and the right actor?' he asked.

  'Am I!' said Pat grimly. 'I can see you right now. Only you

  didn't have much time to complain about the uniform because that

  wasn't Corker's plan. He always thought you were the toughest ham

  in Hollywood to get anything natural out of--and he had a scheme.

  He was going to get the heart of the picture shot by noon--before

  you even knew you were acting. He turned you around and shoved you

  down into that shell hole on your fanny, and yelled "Camera".'

  'That's a lie,' said Phil Macedon. 'I GOT down.'

  'Then why did you start yelling?' demanded Pat. 'I can still hear

  you: "Hey, what's the idea! Is this some -- -- gag? You get me

  out of here or I'll walk out on you!"

  '--and all the time you were trying to claw your way up the side of

  that pit, so damn mad you couldn't see. You'd almost get up and

  then you'd slide back and lie there with your face working--till

  finally you began to bawl and all this time Bill had four cameras

  on you. After about twenty minutes you gave up and just lay there,

  heaving. Bill took a hundred feet of that and then he had a couple

  of prop men pull you out.'

  The police Captain had arrived in the squad car. He stood in the

  doorway against the first grey of dawn.

  'What you got here, Sergeant? A drunk?'

  Sergeant Gaspar walked over to the cell, unlocked it and beckoned

  Pat to come out. Pat blinked a moment--then his eyes fell on Phil

  Macedon and he shook his finger at him.

  'So you see I DO know you,' he said. 'Bill Corker cut that piece

  of film and titled it so you were supposed to be a doughboy whose

  pal had just been killed. You wanted to climb out and get at the

  Germans in revenge, but the shells bursting all around and the

  concussions kept knocking you back in.'

  'What's it about?' demanded the Captain.

  'I want to prove I know this guy,' said Pat. 'Bill said the best

  moment in the picture was when Phil was yelling "I've al-READY

  broken my first finger nail!" Bill titled it "Ten Huns will go to

  hell to shine your shoes!"'

  'You've got here "collision with alcohol",' said the Captain

  looking at the blotter. 'Let's take these guys down to the

  hospital and give them the test.'

  'Look here now,' said the actor, with his flashing smile, 'my

  name's Phil Macedon.'

  The Captain was a political appointee and very young. He

  remembered the name and the face but he was not especially

  impressed because Hollywood was full of has-beens.

  They all got into the squad car at the door.

  After the test Macedon was held at the station house until friends

  could arrange bail. Pat Hobby was discharged but his car would not

  run, so Sergeant Gaspar offered to drive him home.

  'Where do you live?' he asked as they started off.

  'I don't live anywhere tonight,' said Pat. 'That's why I was

  driving around. When a friend of mine wakes up I'll touch him for

  a couple of bucks and go to a hotel.'

  'Well now,' said Sergeant Gaspar, 'I got a couple of bucks that

  ain't working.'

  The great mansions of Beverly Hills slid by and Pat waved his hand

  at them in salute.

  'In the good old days,' he said, 'I used to be able to drop into

  some of those houses day or night. And Sunday mornings--'

  'Is that all true you said in the station,' Gaspar asked, '--about

  how they put him in the hole?'

  'Sure, it is,' said Pat. 'That guy needn't have been so upstage.

  He's just an old-timer like me.'


  Esquire (April 1941)


  The swarthy man, with eyes that snapped back and forward on a

  rubber band from the rear of his head, answered to the alias of

  Dick Dale. The tall, spectacled man who was put together like a

  camel without a hump--and you missed the hump--answered to the name

  of E. Brunswick Hudson. The scene was a shoeshine stand,

  insignificant unit of the great studio. We perceive it through the

  red-rimmed eyes of Pat Hobby who sat in the chair beside Director


  The stand was out of doors, opposite the commissary. The voice of

  E. Brunswick Hudson quivered with passion but it was pitched low so

  as not to reach passers-by.

  'I don't know what a writer like me is doing out here anyhow,' he

  said, with vibrations.

  Pat Hobby, who was an old-timer, could have supplied the answer,

  but he had not the acquaintance of the other two.

  'It's a funny business,' said Dick Dale, and to the shoe-shine boy,

  'Use that saddle soap.'

  'Funny!' thundered E., 'It's SUS-pect! Here against my better

  judgement I write just what you tell me--and the office tells me to

  get out because we can't seem to agree.'

  'That's polite,' explained Dick Dale. 'What do you want me to do--

  knock you down?'

  E. Brunswick Hudson removed his glasses.

  'Try it!' he suggested. 'I weigh a hundred and sixty-two and I

  haven't got an ounce of flesh on me.' He hesitated and redeemed

  himself from this extremity. 'I mean FAT on me.'

  'Oh, to hell with that!' said Dick Dale contemptuously, 'I can't

  mix it up with you. I got to figure this picture. You go back

  East and write one of your books and forget it.' Momentarily he

  looked at Pat Hobby, smiling as if HE would understand, as if

  anyone would understand except E. Brunswick Hudson. 'I can't tell

  you all about pictures in three weeks.'

  Hudson replaced his spectacles.

  'When I DO write a book,' he said, 'I'll make you the laughing

  stock of the nation.'

  He withdrew, ineffectual, baffled, defeated. After a minute Pat


  'Those guys can never get the idea,' he commented. 'I've never

  seen one get the idea and I been in this business, publicity and

  script, for twenty years.'

  'You on the lot?' Dale asked.

  Pat hesitated.

  'Just finished a job,' he said.

  That was five months before.

  'What screen credits you got?' Dale asked.

  'I got credits going all the way back to 1920.'

  'Come up to my office,' Dick Dale said, 'I got something I'd like

  to talk over--now that bastard is gone back to his New England

  farm. Why do they have to get a New England farm--with the whole

  West not settled?'

  Pat gave his second-to-last dime to the bootblack and climbed down

  from the stand.


  We are in the midst of technicalities.

  'The trouble is this composer Reginald de Koven didn't have any

  colour,' said Dick Dale. 'He wasn't deaf like Beethoven or a

  singing waiter or get put in jail or anything. All he did was

  write music and all we got for an angle is that song O Promise Me.

  We got to weave something around that--a dame promises him

  something and in the end he collects.'

  'I want time to think it over in my mind,' said Pat. 'If Jack

  Berners will put me on the picture--'

ll put you on,' said Dick Dale. 'From now on I'm picking my

  own writers. What do you get--fifteen hundred?' He looked at

  Pat's shoes, 'Seven-fifty?'

  Pat stared at him blankly for a moment; then out of thin air,

  produced his best piece of imaginative fiction in a decade.

  'I was mixed up with a producer's wife,' he said, 'and they ganged

  up on me. I only get three-fifty now.'

  In some ways it was the easiest job he had ever had. Director Dick

  Dale was a type that, fifty years ago, could be found in any

  American town. Generally he was the local photographer, usually he

  was the originator of small mechanical contrivances and a leader in

  bizarre local movements, almost always he contributed verse to the

  local press. All the most energetic embodiments of this 'Sensation

  Type' had migrated to Hollywood between 1910 and 1930, and there

  they had achieved a psychological fulfilment inconceivable in any

  other time or place. At last, and on a large scale, they were able

  to have their way. In the weeks that Pat Hobby and Mabel Hatman,

  Mr Dale's script girl, sat beside him and worked on the script, not

  a movement, not a word went into it that was not Dick Dale's

  coinage. Pat would venture a suggestion, something that was

  'Always good'.

  'Wait a minute! Wait a minute!' Dick Dale was on his feet, his

  hands outspread. 'I seem to see a dog.' They would wait, tense

  and breathless, while he saw a dog.

  'Two dogs.'

  A second dog took its place beside the first in their obedient


  'We open on a dog on a leash--pull the camera back to show another

  dog--now they're snapping at each other. We pull back further--the

  leashes are attached to tables--the tables tip over. See it?'

  Or else, out of a clear sky.

  'I seem to see De Koven as a plasterer's apprentice.'

  'Yes.' This hopefully.

  'He goes to Santa Anita and plasters the walls, singing at his

  work. Take that down, Mabel.' He continued on . . .

  In a month they had the requisite hundred and twenty pages.

  Reginald de Koven, it seemed, though not an alcoholic, was too fond

  of 'The Little Brown Jug'. The father of the girl he loved had

  died of drink, and after the wedding when she found him drinking

  from the Little Brown Jug, nothing would do but that she should go

  away, for twenty years. He became famous and she sang his songs as

  Maid Marian but he never knew it was the same girl.

  The script, marked 'Temporary Complete. From Pat Hobby' went up to

  the head office. The schedule called for Dale to begin shooting in

  a week.

  Twenty-four hours later he sat with his staff in his office, in an

  atmosphere of blue gloom. Pat Hobby was the least depressed. Four

  weeks at three-fifty, even allowing for the two hundred that had

  slipped away at Santa Anita, was a far cry from the twenty cents he

  had owned on the shoeshine stand.

  'That's pictures, Dick,' he said consolingly. 'You're up--you're

  down--you're in, you're out. Any old-timer knows.'

  'Yes,' said Dick Dale absently. 'Mabel, phone that E. Brunswick

  Hudson. He's on his New England farm--maybe milking bees.'

  In a few minutes she reported.

  'He flew into Hollywood this morning, Mr Dale. I've located him at

  the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.'

  Dick Dale pressed his ear to the phone. His voice was bland and

  friendly as he said:

  'Mr Hudson, there was one day here you had an idea I liked. You

  said you were going to write it up. It was about this De Koven

  stealing his music from a sheepherder up in Vermont. Remember?'


  'Well, Berners wants to go into production right away, or else we

  can't have the cast, so we're on the spot, if you know what I mean.

  Do you happen to have that stuff?'

  'You remember when I brought it to you?' Hudson asked. 'You kept

  me waiting two hours--then you looked at it for two minutes. Your

  neck hurt you--I think it needed wringing. God, how it hurt you.

  That was the only nice thing about that morning.'

  'In picture business--'

  'I'm so glad you're stuck. I wouldn't tell you the story of The

  Three Bears for fifty grand.'

  As the phones clicked Dick Dale turned to Pat.

  'Goddam writers!' he said savagely. 'What do we pay you for?

  Millions--and you write a lot of tripe I can't photograph and get

  sore if we don't read your lousy stuff! How can a man make

  pictures when they give me two bastards like you and Hudson. How?

  How do you think--you old whiskey bum!'

  Pat rose--took a step toward the door. He didn't know, he said.

  'Get out of here!' cried Dick Dale. 'You're off the payroll. Get

  off the lot.'

  Fate had not dealt Pat a farm in New England, but there was a caf

  just across from the studio where bucolic dreams blossomed in

  bottles if you had the money. He did not like to leave the lot,

  which for many years had been home for him, so he came back at six

  and went up to his office. It was locked. He saw that they had

  already allotted it to another writer--the name on the door was E.

  Brunswick Hudson.

  He spent an hour in the commissary, made another visit to the bar,

  and then some instinct led him to a stage where there was a bedroom

  set. He passed the night upon a couch occupied by Claudette

  Colbert in the fluffiest ruffles only that afternoon.

  Morning was bleaker, but he had a little in his bottle and almost a

  hundred dollars in his pocket. The horses were running at Santa

  Anita and he might double it by night.

  On his way out of the lot he hesitated beside the barber shop but

  he felt too nervous for a shave. Then he paused, for from the

  direction of the shoeshine stand he heard Dick Dale's voice.

  'Miss Hatman found your other script, and it happens to be the

  property of the company.'

  E. Brunswick Hudson stood at the foot of the stand.

  'I won't have my name used,' he said.

  'That's good. I'll put her name on it. Berners thinks it's great,

  if the De Koven family will stand for it. Hell--the sheepbreeder

  never would have been able to market those tunes anyhow. Ever hear

  of any sheepherder drawing down jack from ASCAP?'

  Hudson took off his spectacles.

  'I weigh a hundred and sixty-three--'

  Pat moved in closer.

  'Join the army,' said Dale contemptuously, 'I got no time for

  mixing it up. I got to make a picture.' His eyes fell on Pat.

  'Hello old-timer.'

  'Hello Dick,' said Pat smiling. Then knowing the advantage of the

  psychological moment he took his chance.

  'When do we work?' he said.

  'How much?' Dick Dale asked the shoeshine boy--and to Pat, 'It's

  all done. I promised Mabel a screen credit for a long time. Look

  me up some day when you got an idea.'

  He hailed someone by the barber shop and hurried off. Hudson and

  Hobby, men of letters who had never met, regarded each other.

  There were tears of anger in Hudson's eyes.

  'Authors get a tou
gh break out here,' Pat said sympathetically.

  'They never ought to come.'

  'Who'd make up the stories--these feebs?'

  'Well anyhow, not authors,' said Pat. 'They don't want authors.

  They want writers--like me.'


  Esquire (May 1941)


  The afternoon was dark. The walls of Topanga Canyon rose sheer on

  either side. Get rid of it she must. The clank clank in the back

  seat frightened her. Evylyn did not like the business at all. It

  was not what she came out here to do. Then she thought of Mr

  Hobby. He believed in her, trusted her--and she was doing this for


  But the mission was arduous. Evylyn Lascalles left the canyon and

  cruised along the inhospitable shores of Beverly Hills. Several

  times she turned up alleys, several times she parked beside vacant

  lots--but always some pedestrian or loiterer threw her into a mood

  of nervous anxiety. Once her heart almost stopped as she was eyed

  with appreciation--or was it suspicion--by a man who looked like a


  --He had no right to ask me this, she said to herself. Never

  again. I'll tell him so. Never again.

  Night was fast descending. Evylyn Lascalles had never seen it come

  down so fast. Back to the canyon then, to the wild, free life.

  She drove up a paint-box corridor which gave its last pastel shades

  to the day. And reached a certain security at a bend overlooking

  plateau land far below.

  Here there could be no complication. As she threw each article

  over the cliff it would be as far removed from her as if she were

  in a different state of the Union.

  Miss Lascalles was from Brooklyn. She had wanted very much to come

  to Hollywood and be a secretary in pictures--now she wished that

  she had never left her home.

  On with the job though--she must part with her cargo--as soon as

  this next car passed the bend . . .


  . . . Meanwhile her employer, Pat Hobby, stood in front of the

  barber shop talking to Louie, the studio bookie. Pat's four weeks

  at two-fifty would be up tomorrow and he had begun to have that

  harassed and aghast feeling of those who live always on the edge of


  'Four lousy weeks on a bad script,' he said. 'That's all I've had

  in six months.'

  'How do you live?' asked Louie--without too much show of interest.

  'I don't live. The days go by, the weeks go by. But who cares?

  Who cares--after twenty years.'

  'You had a good time in your day,' Louie reminded him.

  Pat looked after a dress extra in a shimmering lam gown.

  'Sure,' he admitted, 'I had three wives. All anybody could want.'

  'You mean THAT was one of your wives?' asked Louie.

  Pat peered after the disappearing figure.

  'No-o. I didn't say THAT was one. But I've had plenty of them

  feeding out of my pocket. Not now though--a man of forty-nine is

  not considered human.'

  'You've got a cute little secretary,' said Louie. 'Look Pat, I'll

  give you a tip--'

  'Can't use it,' said Pat, 'I got fifty cents.'

  'I don't mean that kind of tip. Listen--Jack Berners wants to make

  a picture about U.W.C. because he's got a kid there that plays

  basketball. He can't get a story. Why don't you go over and see

  the Athaletic Superintendent named Doolan at U.W.C.? That

  superintendent owes me three grand on the nags, and he could maybe

  give you an idea for a college picture. And then you bring it back

  and sell it to Berners. You're on salary, ain't you?'

  'Till tomorrow,' said Pat gloomily.

  'Go and see Jim Kresge that hangs out in the Campus Sport Shop.

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