Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chapter One. Ed and Johnny Pitch the Goods

"Monday? That's what, three days from now?" Zanuck growled. "Get me Ed and Johnny!"

The man's skill at saying yes, and at leaping up to do his master's bidding, had earned for him a glistening silver Buick Phaeton convertible.

The Phaeton slowed down at the Garden of Allah, that legendary retreat of Hollywood Bohemia where on any day one might find the poolside festooned with the most daring and brilliant of actors and writers.

Then it turned right and continued down the hill.

Just as he'd hoped and expected, the air was rent by a single sound: a typerwriter clattering at inhuman speed.

Ed suggested nine lines of his own, although "suggest" may be the wrong word, as his fingers never stopped pounding.

Paulie turned in at the gate to the Fox lot. "Look who I got," he said to the guard.

He accelerated abruptly and stopped even more abruptly at the Writers' Building.

"Did you see the eyeful they gave Furthman?" Johnny said.

"Did somebody say eyeful?" Betty asked.

"His name's Pedro," said Ed, "and they want him written for Cesar Romero."

"Ed! Johnny!" Joe Mankiewicz grinned. "And what makes today my lucky day?"

"Good enough," Zanuck said. "Now get those two hacks out of here."

"Picture Ty Power as the cabbie," Ed said.

"And George Sanders as the pimp."

"And that little doll from the Lassie movies as the tart," Johnny added.

"I'll bet Shirley Temple could still do it," Ed said. "Just put her in one of those pinafores she used to wear."

"Laughs!" Ed said. "Don Ameche as the cabbie and Clifton Webb as the pimp!"

"And Jane Withers!" said Johnny. "How old is Jane Withers now, anyway?"

"This could be Amos and Andy's chance to get back on the big screen!" Ed boomed.

Chapter Two. Strictly from Know Nothin'

"Now that's a job with a future!" Edna said. "People will always need doughnuts, you know!"

Ed could easily see him as the subject of one of those homey Rockwell Kent covers on The Saturday Evening Post.

 And because one of his novels had the word "horses" in the title, he was usually put to work writing scenarios for westerns.

Hugh remembered that the boys had been invited to a party at Betty and Harry's a couple of nights before and wondered how it had gone.

"Well now!" Hugh said. "This sounds promising!"

"And that Rhonda Fleming!" Ed said. "Mother of mercy! For a minute there I thought she was going to sit in my lap!"

"Oh, I don't know if they need to worry too much," Horace said with a little smile.

Ed was still chortling as they strolled back to their own bungalow.


Jeroboam Clapp was the leader of the Church of the Blazing Spotlight of God, which conducted its services in a car wash on Pico Boulevard that lay frozen half-completed by some city mix-up about water supplies.

Ed had been sixteen at the time. In fact, that had been his father’s sixteenth birthday present to him. A job at the slaughterhouse. 


“My dad says we might not’ve lost the farm if I’d kept my head where it was supposed to be.”

“Or even better! A radio serial! One of those daytime ones that the little ladies listen to!

He so closely resembled his brother that Ed and Johnny were afraid he’d whip out a gat and ventilate them if he didn’t like Horace’s idea.

“Shell shock,” Johnny said. “You see it all the time with these hero types.”

“He’s not going to be happy to hear about this.”

“Not at first, he won’t. But if I don’t miss my guess, he’ll love it when I’ve spelled it all out."

Monday, April 30, 2012

Chapter Three. Boys Meet Girl

Ed liked the flashy girls. He would have gone for Ava or Rita or Lana in a heartbeat. But as none of Hollywood's flashiest dames would have him, he was satisfied to swing on the next rung down.

Johnny liked real girls. He liked girls to play cards with, to take in a picture with, to cook for him and eat his cooking, to go for a walk in the park with and for a long drive on a Sunday afternoon.

The choker was the first thing that caught Ed’s eyes, a strip of silk binding the slim column of her neck. He saw a full-lipped mouth with lips the color of roses at sunset, haughty cheekbones, and black shoulder-length hair that he could so vividly imagine spread over his pillow that he almost gave an involuntary cry.

Black nylons sheathed the graceful curve of her legs, the calves swelling just so as they poised on black pumps with three-inch heels.

Only her eyes troubled him a little, green pools from which a challenge was flung, where he would much rather have found surrender.

The Coral Gables was all pink stucco and glass brick.

Johnny’s suit was of a tan color with a hound’s tooth check, and made from some material that approximated wool with a questionable degree of accuracy.

They both wore dark gray fedoras and black wingtips.

The boys might have noticed the modern Danish furnishings, but then again they might not have.

It would be difficult to say if they heard Artie Shaw's clarinet issuing from the record player. For all their senses were attuned to Miss Leona Sands.

She turned eagerly to Johnny. “Did you know that? About the
"I don't think I recognized three words you said," Johnny answered.

A timer rang in the kitchen and soon they were eating.

“That's so
bold!" Leona cried. "Your exploration of the white man trying to adapt as the Negro assumes his rightful place in the body politic can be an indictment of bigotry and at the same time a testament to the human spirit!”

In truth, following a brutal pitch meeting with Samuel Goldwyn, they had come to see the picture as a comedy starring Danny Kaye and Stepin Fetchit, and all they’d envisioned was a lot of madcap hijinks, but Ed decided not to…well, enlighten her.

"That's wonderful," Leona said. "So when do you think you should break it to Wanger that Joyce has been dead for five years?"

Johnny took one last glance up at the lighted third-floor window in the Coral Gables and released the brake.

"A Mick and a Limey," Warner said. "Friends. I like it already!"

"Wait'll you hear
this switcheroo!" Ed said.
"He finally maneuvers her into the sack, see," Johnny said, and paused for dramatic effect. "But when she whips off her