The pat hobby stories, p.8
The Pat Hobby Stories, page 8
'What is it?' persisted Pat. 'If I got to be protected against
something I got a right to know what it is.'
Near the false front of a warehouse a battery of cameras were
getting into position. George Hilliard came suddenly out of a
group and toward Pat and putting his arm on his shoulder steered
him toward the actors' dressing tent. Once inside he handed Pat a
'Have a drink, old man.'
Pat took a long pull.
'There's a bit of business, Pat,' Hilliard said, 'needs some new
costuming. I'll explain it while they dress you.'
Pat was divested of coat and vest, his trousers were loosened and
in an instant a hinged iron doublet was fastened about his middle,
extending from his armpits to his crotch very much like a plaster
'This is the very finest strongest iron, Pat,' Hilliard assured
him. 'The very best in tensile strength and resistance. It was
built in Pittsburgh.'
Pat suddenly resisted the attempts of two dressers to pull his
trousers up over the thing and to slip on his coat and vest.
'What's it for?' he demanded, arms flailing. 'I want to know.
You're not going to shoot at me if that's what--'
'Then what IS it? I'm no stunt man--'
'You signed a contract just like McCarthy's to do anything within
reason--and our lawyers have certified this.'
'What IS it?' Pat's mouth was dry.
'It's an automobile.'
'You're going to hit me with an automobile.'
'Give me a chance to tell you,' begged Hilliard. 'Nobody's going
to hit you. The auto's going to pass over you, that's all. This
case is so strong--'
'Oh no!' said Pat. 'Oh no!' He tore at the iron corselet. 'Not
George Hilliard pinioned his arms firmly.
'Pat, you almost wrecked this picture once--you're not going to do
it again. Be a man.'
'That's what I'm going to be. You're not going to squash me out
flat like that extra last month.'
He broke off. Behind Hilliard he saw a face he knew--a hateful and
dreaded face--that of the collector for the North Hollywood Finance
and Loan Company. Over in the parking lot stood his coupe,
faithful pal and servant since 1934, companion of his misfortunes,
his only certain home.
'Either you fill your contract,' said George Hilliard, '--or you're
out of pictures for keeps.'
The man from the finance company had taken a step forward. Pat
turned to Hilliard.
'Will you loan me--' he faltered, '--will you advance me twenty-
'Sure,' said Hilliard.
Pat spoke fiercely to the credit man:
'You hear that? You'll get your money, but if this thing breaks,
my death'll be on your head.'
The next few minutes passed in a dream. He heard Hilliard's last
instructions as they walked from the tent. Pat was to be lying in
a shallow ditch to touch off the dynamite--and then the hero would
drive the car slowly across his middle. Pat listened dimly. A
picture of himself, cracked like an egg by the factory wall, lay a-
thwart his mind.
He picked up the torch and lay down in the ditch. Afar off he
heard the call 'Quiet', then Hilliard's voice and the noise of the
car warming up.
'Action!' called someone. There was the sound of the car growing
nearer--louder. And then Pat Hobby knew no more.
When he awoke it was dark and quiet. For some moments he failed to
recognize his whereabouts. Then he saw that stars were out in the
California sky and that he was somewhere alone--no--he was held
tight in someone's arms. But the arms were of iron and he realized
that he was still in the metallic casing. And then it all came
back to him--up to the moment when he heard the approach of the
As far as he could determine he was unhurt--but why out here and
He struggled to get up but found it was impossible and after a
horrified moment he let out a cry for help. For five minutes he
called out at intervals until finally a voice came from far away;
and assistance arrived in the form of a studio policeman.
'What is it fella? A drop too much?'
'Hell no,' cried Pat. 'I was in the shooting this afternoon. It
was a lousy trick to go off and leave me in this ditch.'
'They must have forgot you in the excitement.'
'Forgot me! _I_ was the excitement. If you don't believe me then
feel what I got on!'
The cop helped him to his feet.
'They was upset,' he explained. 'A star don't break his leg every
'What's that? Did something happen?'
'Well, as I heard, he was supposed to drive the car at a bump and
the car turned over and broke his leg. They had to stop shooting
and they're all kind of gloomy.'
'And they leave me inside this--this stove. How do I get it off
tonight? How'm I going to drive my car?'
But for all his rage Pat felt a certain fierce pride. He was
Something in this set-up--someone to be reckoned with after years
of neglect. He had managed to hold up the picture once more.
PAT HOBBY'S PREVIEW
Esquire (October 1940)
'I haven't got a job for you,' said Berners. 'We've got more
writers now than we can use.'
'I didn't ask for a job,' said Pat with dignity. 'But I rate some
tickets for the preview tonight--since I got a half credit.'
'Oh yes, I want to talk to you about that,' Berners frowned. 'We
may have to take your name off the screen credits.'
'WHAT?' exclaimed Pat. 'Why, it's already on! I saw it in the
Reporter. "By Ward Wainwright and Pat Hobby."'
'But we may have to take it off when we release the picture.
Wainwright's back from the East and raising hell. He says that you
claimed lines where all you did was change "No" to "No sir" and
"crimson" to "red", and stuff like that.'
'I been in this business twenty years,' said Pat. 'I know my
rights. That guy laid an egg. I was called in to revise a
'You were not,' Berners assured him. 'After Wainwright went to New
York I called you in to fix one small character. If I hadn't gone
fishing you wouldn't have got away with sticking your name on the
script.' Jack Berners broke off, touched by Pat's dismal, red-
streaked eyes. 'Still, I was glad to see you get a credit after so
'I'll join the Screen Writers Guild and fight it.'
'You don't stand a chance. Anyhow, Pat, your name's on it tonight
at least, and it'll remind everybody you're alive. And I'll dig
you up some tickets--but keep an eye out for Wainwright. It isn't
good for you to get socked if you're over fifty.'
'I'm in my forties,' said Pat, who was forty-nine.
The Dictograph buzzed. Berners switched it on.
'It's Mr Wainwright.'
'Tell him to wait.' He turned to Pat: 'That's Wainwright. Better
'How about the tickets?'
'Drop by this afternoon.'
To a rising young screen poet this might have been a crushing blow
but Pat was made of sterner stuff. Sterner not upon himself, but
on the harsh fate that had dogged him for nearly a decade. With
all his experience, and with the help of every poisonous herb that
blossoms between Washington Boulevard and Ventura, between Santa
Monica and Vine--he continued to slip. Sometimes he grabbed
momentarily at a bush, found a few weeks' surcease upon the island
of a 'patch job', but in general the slide continued at a pace that
would have dizzied a lesser man.
Once safely out of Berners' office, for instance, Pat looked ahead
and not behind. He visioned a drink with Louie, the studio bookie,
and then a call on some old friends on the lot. Occasionally, but
less often every year, some of these calls developed into jobs
before you could say 'Santa Anita'. But after he had had his drink
his eyes fell upon a lost girl.
She was obviously lost. She stood staring very prettily at the
trucks full of extras that rolled toward the commissary. And then
gazed about helpless--so helpless that a truck was almost upon her
when Pat reached out and plucked her aside.
'Oh, thanks,' she said, 'thanks, I came with a party for a tour of
the studio and a policeman made me leave my camera in some office.
Then I went to stage five where the guide said, but it was closed.'
She was a 'Cute Little Blonde'. To Pat's liverish eye, cute little
blondes seemed as much alike as a string of paper dolls. Of course
they had different names.
'We'll see about it,' said Pat.
'You're very nice. I'm Eleanor Carter from Boise, Idaho.'
He told her his name and that he was a writer. She seemed first
'A writer? . . . Oh, of course. I knew they had to have writers
but I guess I never heard about one before.'
'Writers get as much as three grand a week,' he assured her firmly.
'Writers are some of the biggest shots in Hollywood.'
'You see, I never thought of it that way.'
'Bernud Shaw was out here,' he said, '--and Einstein, but they
couldn't make the grade.'
They walked to the Bulletin Board and Pat found that there was work
scheduled on three stages--and one of the directors was a friend
out of the past.
'What did you write?' Eleanor asked.
A great male Star loomed on the horizon and Eleanor was all eyes
till he had passed. Anyhow the names of Pat's pictures would have
been unfamiliar to her.
'Those were all silents,' he said.
'Oh. Well, what did you write last?'
'Well, I worked on a thing at Universal--I don't know what they
called it finally--' He saw that he was not impressing her at all.
He thought quickly. What did they know in Boise, Idaho?' I wrote
Captains Courageous,' he said boldly. 'And Test Pilot and
Wuthering Heights and--and The Awful Truth and Mr Smith Goes to
'Oh!' she exclaimed. 'Those are all my favourite pictures. And
Test Pilot is my boy friend's favourite picture and Dark Victory is
'I thought Dark Victory stank,' he said modestly. 'Highbrow
stuff,' and he added to balance the scales of truth, 'I been here
They came to a stage and went in. Pat sent his name to the
director and they were passed. They watched while Ronald Colman
rehearsed a scene.
'Did you write this?' Eleanor whispered.
'They asked me to,' Pat said, 'but I was busy.'
He felt young again, authoritative and active, with a hand in many
schemes. Then he remembered something.
'I've got a picture opening tonight.'
'I was going to take Claudette Colbert but she's got a cold. Would
you like to go?'
He was alarmed when she mentioned a family, relieved when she said
it was only a resident aunt. It would be like old times walking
with a cute little blonde past the staring crowds on the sidewalk.
His car was Class of 1933 but he could say it was borrowed--one of
his Jap servants had smashed his limousine. Then what? he didn't
quite know, but he could put on a good act for one night.
He bought her lunch in the commissary and was so stirred that he
thought of borrowing somebody's apartment for the day. There was
the old line about 'getting her a test'. But Eleanor was thinking
only of getting to a hair-dresser to prepare for tonight, and he
escorted her reluctantly to the gate. He had another drink with
Louie and went to Jack Berners' office for the tickets.
Berners' secretary had them ready in an envelope.
'We had trouble about these, Mr Hobby.'
'Trouble? Why? Can't a man go to his own preview? Is this
'It's not that, Mr Hobby,' she said. 'The picture's been talked
about so much, every seat is gone.'
Unreconciled, he complained, 'And they just didn't think of me.'
'I'm sorry.' She hesitated. 'These are really Mr Wainwright's
tickets. He was so angry about something that he said he wouldn't
go--and threw them on my desk. I shouldn't be telling you this.'
'These are HIS seats?'
'Yes, Mr Hobby.'
Pat sucked his tongue. This was in the nature of a triumph.
Wainwright had lost his temper, which was the last thing you should
ever do in pictures--you could only pretend to lose it--so perhaps
his applecart wasn't so steady. Perhaps Pat ought to join the
Screen Writers Guild and present his case--if the Screen Writers
Guild would take him in.
This problem was academic. He was calling for Eleanor at five
o'clock and taking her 'somewhere for a cocktail'. He bought a two-
dollar shirt, changing into it in the shop, and a four-dollar
Alpine hat--thus halving his bank account which, since the Bank
Holiday of 1933, he carried cautiously in his pocket.
The modest bungalow in West Hollywood yielded up Eleanor without a
struggle. On his advice she was not in evening dress but she was
as trim and shining as any cute little blonde out of his past.
Eager too--running over with enthusiasm and gratitude. He must
think of someone whose apartment he could borrow for tomorrow.
'You'd like a test?' he asked as they entered the Brown Derby bar.
'What girl wouldn't?'
'Some wouldn't--for a million dollars.' Pat had had setbacks in
his love life. 'Some of them would rather go on pounding the keys
or just hanging around. You'd be surprised.'
'I'd do almost anything for a test,' Eleanor said.
Looking at her two hours later he wondered honestly to himself if
it couldn't be arranged. There was Harry Gooddorf--there was Jack
Berners--but his credit was low on all sides. He could do
SOMETHING for her, he decided. He would try at least to get an
agent interested--if all went well tomorrow.
'What are you doing tomo
'Nothing,' she answered promptly. 'Hadn't we better eat and get to
He made a further inroad on his bank account to pay for his six
whiskeys--you certainly had the right to celebrate before your own
preview--and took her into the restaurant for dinner. They ate
little. Eleanor was too excited--Pat had taken his calories in
It was a long time since he had seen a picture with his name on it.
Pat Hobby. As a man of the people he always appeared in the credit
titles as Pat Hobby. It would be nice to see it again and though
he did not expect his old friends to stand up and sing Happy
Birthday to You, he was sure there would be back-slapping and even
a little turn of attention toward him as the crowd swayed out of
the theatre. That would be nice.
'I'm frightened,' said Eleanor as they walked through the alley of
'They're looking at you,' he said confidently. 'They look at that
pretty pan and try to think if you're an actress.'
A fan shoved an autograph album and pencil toward Eleanor but Pat
moved her firmly along. It was late--the equivalent of' 'all
aboard' was being shouted around the entrance.
'Show your tickets, please sir.'
Pat opened the envelope and handed them to the doorman. Then he
said to Eleanor:
'The seats are reserved--it doesn't matter that we're late.'
She pressed close to him, clinging--it was, as it turned out, the
high point of her debut. Less than three steps inside the theatre
a hand fell on Pat's shoulder.
'Hey Buddy, these aren't tickets for here.'
Before they knew it they were back outside the door, glared at with
'I'm Pat Hobby. I wrote this picture.'
For an instant credulity wandered to his side. Then the hard-
boiled doorman sniffed at Pat and stepped in close.
'Buddy you're drunk. These are tickets to another show.'
Eleanor looked and felt uneasy but Pat was cool.
'Go inside and ask Jack Berners,' Pat said. 'He'll tell you.'
'Now listen,' said the husky guard, 'these are tickets for a
burlesque down in L.A.' He was steadily edging Pat to the side.
'You go to your show, you and your girl friend. And be happy.'
'You don't understand. I wrote this picture.'
'Sure. In a pipe dream.'
'Look at the programme. My name's on it. I'm Pat Hobby.'
'Can you prove it? Let's see your auto licence.'
As Pat handed it over he whispered to Eleanor, 'Don't worry!'
'This doesn't say Pat Hobby,' announced the doorman. 'This says
the car's owned by the North Hollywood Finance and Loan Company.
Is that you?'
For once in his life Pat could think of nothing to say--he cast one
quick glance at Eleanor. Nothing in her face indicated that he was
anything but what he thought he was--all alone.
Though the preview crowd had begun to drift away, with that vague
American wonder as to why they had come at all, one little cluster
found something arresting and poignant in the faces of Pat and
Eleanor. They were obviously gate-crashers, outsiders like
themselves, but the crowd resented the temerity of their effort to
get in--a temerity which the crowd did not share. Little jeering
jests were audible. Then, with Eleanor already edging away from
the distasteful scene, there was a flurry by the door. A well-
dressed six-footer strode out of the theatre and stood gazing till
he saw Pat.
'There you are!' he shouted.
by F. Scott Fitzgerald / Fiction / Short Stories have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes