“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” (W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hollywood Darling pt. iv

please go back and read pts i, ii and iii if you have not done so...

Goodbye Mississippi
Ryan wakes the next morning slumped over the desk. He wipes the drool from his mouth, seeing an entry in his notebook in someone else’s hand. It says “the next day she hoped he would come see her at the diner.” He smiles as he stands to stretch and rubs his lower back. After a quick shower he throws on some clothes and heads out the door. He stops and listens at Jackie’s door, thinking about waking him then decides against it.
On his walk to Hawley’s, he sees Buck in his overalls on the phone, trying to untangle himself from the cord. When Buck sees him he smiles and waves him over. He stands there a moment and Buck covers the phone and says, got a guy here says he can get the part to me tomorrow. Great, Ryan says. Jackie will be glad to hear it. Buck turns back to the phone and waves Ryan off, while he conducts his business. Ryan crosses the street to the diner, with a rumbling in his stomach, which he quickly discounts as being hunger.
As he walks into the diner he says good morning, to the room as he had seen everybody else do upon entering. Some people nod a greeting and a few say mornin’” back to him. Miss Betty sees him and shouts, hey Hollywood. She nods to the back of the diner where Sammy stands taking someone’s order, pretending not to notice him. He waves to Miss Betty and takes a seat. Sammy makes her way to his table, coffee pot in hand. She pours him a cup and says, I’ll be right back. Ryan pulls out his notebook and a pen and continues from where he left off last night.
A short time later she returns and jumps into the booth next to him. She puts her head on his shoulder. “Dear diary, last night was swell.” She swoons, mockingly. Ha, ha, he says. What does a guy have to do to get some food around here? Well, last night’s performance will get you the special, she retorts. He sputters on his coffee in response to this. I’ll take it, he says after recovering.
When she returns with his food, he is writing again. What’s that you’re working on? She asks him, as she sets down two plates. He looks over his breakfast wide eyed. On one plate, four thick pancakes stacked high and drowning in syrup. On the other a mound of scrambled eggs and three fat sausages like before. There is no way I am going to be able to finish this, he says. I’m still trying to digest yesterday’s breakfast. I’ll help you she says, scooting in beside him again, pulling another fork from her apron pocket.
So… she says glancing at his notebook. Oh, just a little story about a girl I know. Wow, was I that good? She asks, chidingly. I was wondering, he starts and stops. Yeah? She says. Well, what do you think about going to Hollywood with me? He shoves a forkful of egg in his mouth, nervously. After some seemingly rehearsed struggle, she agrees. He drops his fork and sits back in the booth. Am I that easy to read? She laughs and says no while she shakes her head yes. He can only laugh along with her.
Well, by all means, get back to work, she says grabbing a sausage and walking away. Ryan is left to contemplate what just happened. Oh man, JC is gonna kill me, he thinks to himself. She returns often to fill his cup and check his progress on her story. When he has enough coffee to burst his bladder, he gets up and reaches in his pocket for some money. Don’t worry about it, she says. Just come back at four to pick me up. She grabs his hand and kisses his cheek. I gotta finish my shift and figure out how to tell Miss Betty I won’t be back, She continues, she’s not gonna take it too well. Ryan feels a little guilty, hearing this. Uh, bathroom? he asks sheepishly. She points and says see you at four. OK, is all he can muster in response.
Ryan heads back to the motel to face Jackie. When he arrives he sees his door is partially open. Jackie is on the phone, pacing back and forth across the room. He sees Ryan and waves him in. Yeah, yeah, we found a great location. It’s perfect he is saying. Bobby, he whispers to Ryan. No, we should be back in a couple of days. Buck says the car will be ready tomorrow. Ryan leans over and tells Jackie. He gives Ryan an enthusiastic thumb up. Alright, Bobby, yeah see you soon. Jackie finishes. Well kid, looks like we’re back on track, he says. Not wanting to spoil his unusually good mood, Ryan decides to withhold his news for now.
Go get your notes, we got some work to do. Ryan, glad for the distraction of work, goes to his room and digs up his notes for the movie. He returns to find that Bobby Ray’s wife is in the room. She sets a carafe and two mugs on the desk. Thanks Tammy, Jackie says. Sure darlin’ she says trailing a finger across his shoulder. Well, I’ll let you boys get to work. Jackie gives her a playful swat on the ass as she turns to go. She giggles like a young girl and giddy-ups out the door.
Ryan stares at him for a few seconds before the older man says, c’mon let’s get to work. Ryan asks Jackie if he has seen her husband Bobby Ray. No, but I’m sure he’s a nice guy, he answers unworriedly. JC, the guy is huge (to emphasize this fact he spreads his arms as wide as he is able), like Incredible Hulk huge, you’d better be careful, he warns. Yeah well, we’ll be gone tomorrow right? Jackie asks, a little concern seeping into his voice. Yeah, Ryan confirms. The two men set to work, comparing notes and discussing the scene that Jackie daydreamed  in the tow truck. They work for three hours, draining the coffee pot before Jackie decides he’s done and needs a break. Ryan packs up and goes back to his room thinking of a nap. He has to figure out what to do with Sammy once they get to LA.
He falls into a light sleep and starts to dream about Sammie
-him coming home from work to find Sammy cooking dinner (a pot roast, his favorite) a young boy runs to greet him, hugging his legs. Sammy, untying her apron and hanging it on a dining room chair, kisses his cheek and asks him how his day was. Fine dear, he says. How was yours? –
Before she can answer he is awakened by moaning and panting noises coming from Jackie’s room. Oh Christ, we’re going to die here, he mutters to himself. Remembering his dream, he shakes his head and wonders where his Ward and June Cleaver fantasy came from. Not wanting to be around if Bobby Ray comes looking for his wife, Ryan pulls himself out of bed and gets away from the motel as quickly as possible.
Having some time to kill yet before meeting Sammy, he walks over to Buck’s. The mechanic is still tinkering with the old pickup truck from yesterday. Hey Buck, he calls. Hollywood, what’re you up to? He asks. Just wasting some time, he answers. Hey guess what. Buck says. That part’s coming in this afternoon. I’ll start on your car soon as it gets here, should be ready first thing tomorrow morn, the mechanic tells him. Good, Ryan says more to himself than Buck. Well gotta work on this truck, he says as he scoots underneath the front end. Mind if I hang here a bit? Ryan asks. Suit ‘ ya self Hollywood.
The two men exchange small talk. With Ryan occasionally handing Buck a tool, more often than not the wrong one. Buck peppers him with more questions about LA and the people he knows. Ryan tells how the people he meets outside of LA are much more interesting. Yeah, but I’d give almost anything just to spend one day there, Buck says. Ryan suppresses a laugh, imagining the mechanic in his overalls and oil stains walking down
Rodeo Drive
in a very Beverly Hillbillies moment. Looking at his watch, Ryan says, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Looks pretty but it’s one of the ugliest places I’ve ever seen, he goes on. The two men are quiet for a spell. In the silence he remembers Jackie’s words about Hollywood being where dreams go to die. I gotta go, Buck, he says. Alright, Hollywood, see ya tomorrow ‘bout nine? Yeah, OK.
He walks into the diner and nods nervously at the few people that are there. When he sees Miss Betty, he can tell that she has been crying. Her eyes are red and bloodshot and she is holding a wad of tissue or napkins in her hand. He walks up to her and she says, you had better take care of my little girl, Hollywood. I will, he promises. She leads him to the counter, saying, she’ll be out in a minute. Coffee? No thanks. I’ll just take some water please…ma’am. She smiles at him, pouring his water, and then walks away, her face buried in a hand towel that recently hung in the waist of her apron. Sammy appears from the kitchen carrying her bubblegum colored dress and bleached white apron. She lays them across the counter. She has a canvas, army style duffel bag slung across her back. Let’s go, she says, handing Ryan a back pack. He takes the smaller bag and her still outstretched hand and they walk out of the diner together.
They walk in silence towards the motel. Ryan finally asks her if she is OK. Instead of answering his question, she starts talking about LA and what a big star she is going to be, only half joking. When they get to the motel, they head up the stairs and find Jackie on the balcony smoking a cigarette. Noticing the bags, he shakes his head in disbelief. Ryan returns his gesture with a shrug and nothing more need be said, except introductions. Sammy, JC. JC, Sammy, was all he could find to say. How you doing sweetheart? Jackie asks, not really looking at her. Nice to meet you, she says as Ryan hurries her into his room, leaving Jackie alone on the balcony.

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