In a studio in sunny Los Angeles, the grinding wheels of the Hollywood dream machine continue their inevitable turn. Even our hero, Hobie Doyle, cannot escape them, for all he might try. Laurence Laurentz has just begun to create a new slice of fantasy for the audiences of America, and against all odds, Hobie Doyle is once again in the starring role. We find our hero as he leaves the studio for his trailer...
"Oh, Mr. Doyle?"
Hobie turned uncertainly, but smiled when he saw Mr. Laurentz's pretty, dark-haired second assistant. "Yes, ma'am?" he replied politely.
She thrust a note into his hand. "You'll be accompanying Miss Palermo to dinner tonight. A car will come for you at 7."
"Yes, ma'am," Hobie replied automatically, before realising what she had said. "Wait, tonight? But I -"
"Mr. Mannix's instructions!" the assistant told him briskly as she trotted away.
Hobie sighed and looked at the note in his hand. Deirdre Palermo was nice and all, but she was no Carlotta--and it was the premiere of Carlotta's latest movie tonight.
"I guess I better hope Deirdre don't mind me skipping out early," he muttered, and stuffed the note into his pocket.
Carlotta examined herself critically in the mirror, pushed a shiny black curl back into place, and smiled. She loved seeing movies almost as much as she loved dancing in them - even when it was her own movie she was going to see.
"Do you know who'll be going with you to the premiere, Miss Valdez?" her assistant, Rebeca, asked, handing her a hair pin.
Carlotta pushed the pin in carefully to hold the curl in place. "They haven't said yet," she admitted. "But I think I know!"
Rebeca handed her another hairpin. "Oh, I do hope it's that Hobie Doyle again!" she said. "He's just the cutest!"
Carlotta couldn't help the blush that rose in her cheeks.
Rebeca giggled, but before she could comment, the phone rang. "Maybe that's Hobie now!" she said cheekily, and rushed to answer. Her smile faded as she conscientiously wrote down the message. "Yes sir," she said eventually. "I'll be sure to let her know, sir."
She replaced the receiver and turned back to Carlotta. "You'll be going with Hugo Suarez," she said, somewhat sadly.
Carlotta's smile faded a little, and her heart sank. Seeing Rebeca's crestfallen expression, she tried to regain her usual cheerfulness. "Well, Hugo and I certainly had fun making the movie," she said, trying to sound lighthearted. "I'm sure we will have fun seeing it too."
As Rebeca busied herself picking out the perfect outfit for the premiere, Carlotta looked back in the mirror and briefly allowed herself to look as sad as she felt. Perhaps Hobie hadn't liked her so much after all?
The dinner was almost over, and Hobie was just about desperate to leave. Deirdre hadn't found his spaghetti trick amusing at all, and what kind of a girl didn’t like the spaghetti trick? Plus, every time his mind wandered, he found himself wondering how Carlotta's premiere was going, and he was starting to feel a bit afraid that he might accidentally call Deirdre by the wrong name.
He had just started his joke about his teeth, since it had worked so well with Carlotta, when Deirdre drained her wine and picked up her purse. "Well, it's been... lovely," she said, somehow managing to get across with just a pause and an eyebrow quirk that she meant the exact opposite. "But I really must be going. I'm on set at 6 tomorrow morning."
Hobie stood up with the first genuine smile he'd managed in an hour, and rushed to help her with her chair. "Oh, of course, Miss Palermo, that's no problem. I guess I should be heading out too. I'm just chomping at the bit to do a good job for Mr. Laurentz!"
She sighed, even though he was pretty sure he had pronounced the director's name right this time, and headed for the door without so much as a glance back in his direction.
He watched her go, shrugged, then looked at his watch. 10pm - he might still just about have time to make it to the premiere.
Carlotta reminded herself to laugh as Hugo made yet another joke about the ugly extras he'd been forced - "forced, I tell you! - to work with. She was having a hard time maintaining her signature smile. Oh, seeing a movie - and especially the thrill of seeing herself in a movie, and seeing all her hard work paying off - was fun, but somehow she felt like it would have been so much funnier with Hobie next to her.
She remembered his spaghetti tricks as Hugo made yet another awkward joke, and managed to laugh more genuinely. Hugo glanced her way quickly, and she gave him a bright smile, though she was pretty sure that he was mostly just looking at her to see if she was laughing, not to see if she was genuinely enjoying herself. If she'd learnt one thing about him on set, it was that Hugo Suarez was not really convinced that anyone else even existed besides himself.
Carlotta glanced around the crowd as Hugo directed her away from his crowd of hangers-on on the red carpet, and out towards their car. He wanted to go on to a club, so she supposed she had to go along as well. Hopefully she could slip away once they got there - she was fairly sure Hugo wouldn't notice, and she was finding it more and more effort to keep smiling and laughing this evening. She was fairly sure Mr. Mannix wouldn't appreciate seeing photographs of her looking unhappy in the gossip columns.
As she ducked her head into the waiting car, she thought she heard someone calling her name from the car behind - but then the driver closed the door. With a sigh, she plastered a bright smile back on her face, and turned her attention back to Hugo.
When Carlotta got home that night, she found a large bunch of flowers waiting for her. "Dear Miss Valdez, I hope you knocked 'em dead! Sincerely, Hobie Doyle," she read, and felt an unexpected lump rise in her throat. For the first time in hours, a truly natural smile spread across her face. She plucked a flower from the bouquet and tucked it into her hair, and hummed the beginning of "Lazy Old Moon".
As the Hollywood movie studios churn out fantasies for the audiences of America, so too do the denizens of those studios revel in their own unceasing petty dramas and intrigues. While Hobie Doyle just wants to excel at his job, even he may become caught up in them…
When Hobie arrived on set the next morning, it was with a sinking feeling in his gut. He'd arrived at Carlotta's premiere the night before, just in time to see her climb into a car with her co-star. "And she looked to be having a pretty good time," he told himself. "I guess it was just plain foolish of me to show up like that."
He sighed, brushed off his starched collar - he'd just about gotten used to wearing it, though he still missed his chaps - and stepped through the studio door, only to be greeted by utter chaos.
"I can't work another second like this!" Deirdre screeched to an unhappy-looking Laurence Laurentz. "I won't be made a fool of for a second longer!"
Laurentz raised an elegant eyebrow. "And what do you expect me to do?" he enquired.
"I demand you replace him!" she said hotly. "It's him, or me!"
The director glanced at Hobie, then placed a calming hand on her shoulder and attempted to steer her into a corner. "My dear girl," he said quietly, "you know it's not so simple...."
Hobie shook his head, and looked around at the other cast members, whose expressions ranged from panicked to amused to awkwardly avoiding his gaze.
"I'll be talking to Mr. Mannix!" Deirdre shrieked from the corner. She marched across to where Hobie stood.
"Hello, Deirdre," he said, politely. "You okay there?"
"Gah!! Just listen to him!" she cried, and stormed out of the room.
Laurentz took a deep breath. "Well, then. Until Miss Palermo returns, let us alter our plans and film scenes 34 and 35. Hobie, my dear boy, are you prepared?"
"Yes, Mr. Laurentz, sir!" Hobie said, and got to work.
Mr. Mannix’s office was, as usual, an oasis of calm within the everyday chaos of the studio. Carlotta sat down opposite Mr. Mannix at his gesture, and smiled at him. “I do hope everything is alright, sir?” she asked, feeling somewhat concerned at his grim expression.
Mr. Mannix sighed. “Miss Valdez, I’ll be straight with you. I’ve got new instructions concerning your image, straight from New York. They want to lose the fruit and send you out to shoot in the desert.”
Carlotta’s smile faded a little, but she tried to stay positive. “What kind of movie is it?” she asked, trying not to feel nervous. She knew she was a good performer, but if it was a movie without singing or dancing… that would be tough.
It was hard to resist Carlotta’s smile, even when she was inwardly nervous, and Mr. Mannix smiled back. “It’s a Western.”
Carlotta couldn’t help it – she gasped. “Oh! Is Hobie Doyle in it too?”
Mr. Mannix chuckled. “Oh no, he’s still with Laurence Laurentz.” He reached out and patted her hand. “Don’t worry, Miss Valdez, there’ll be plenty of cowboys out there.”
A few days had passed since Deirdre had left the set, and she didn’t seem to be showing any sign of wanting to come back. Mr. Laurentz had had Hobie filming all the scenes that didn’t involve her at all, but from what Hobie could tell from the script, there weren’t any of those left.
When he got back to the set from his lunch break, Mr. Mannix was there and talking to Mr. Laurentz.
“… says she won’t be returning,” Mr. Mannix said as Hobie came in.
Laurentz’s face was turning a shade of purple that even Hobie hadn’t seen yet, even when he’d had to repeat a line a hundred times before the director was happy. “Then what am I to do? I can hardly remake Poor Little Rich Girl without the girl!”
Mannix shrugged. “There are other actresses. We’ll have someone for you by tomorrow.”
Laurentz shook his head and lowered his voice, but not enough for Hobie not to hear it. “Another actress? The final dream sequence was written especially for Miss Palermo. It’s the pièce de résistance of the entire picture! The first time in five years I have included a musical number!”
At that, Hobie hesitantly cleared his throat. “Uh… Mr. Laurentz?”
Both men ignored him. “We’ll find someone good,” Mannix said firmly. “Trust me. You think I want this movie to fail?”
Laurentz huffed. “What I think is that I should have control over my own casting!”
Hobie tried again. After all, Mr. Mannix had listened to his advice about Baird Whitlock. “Mr. Mannix? Carlotta Valdez sure is swell… and I read the bit with the dream. I bet she could do it.”
Mr. Mannix smiled at him, but didn’t really seem to hear what he’d said. “Thanks Hobie. We’ll bear that in mind.” He turned back to Laurentz. “Tomorrow. You’ll have your actress by then.”
Laurentz sighed dramatically. “On your head be it.” He turned away from Mannix, saw Hobie as if for the first time, and sighed again. “We shall reshoot scene 32, since we still have no leading lady,” he told him.
Hobie looked at Mr. Mannix – maybe his suggestion would have sunk in by now – but he was already heading out the door. Hobie shrugged. “Sure thing, Mr. Laurentz, sir.”
Out in the desert, it turned out that shooting a Western was as fun as Hobie had made it out to be. The dancing was a little different to what she was used to, but Carlotta thought she had got it down pretty quickly.
When Mr. Manning, the director, congratulated her on how quickly she had settled into her role, she gave him a dazzling smile and told him what she’d told Hobie: “It’s all in the hips and the lips and the eyes and the thighs!” Somehow, though, repeating it to someone else didn’t feel quite the same.
In her trailer after filming, Carlotta wiped off her makeup and brushed the straw out of her hair from the afternoon’s shoot, and made up her mind. She went to the trailer door and stuck out her head. “Hello, Laureen,” she said sweetly to the script girl, who was passing by. The first thing she always did when she got to a new set was to learn the names of all the crew. After all, they made the movie happen.
“Oh, Miss Valdez!” Laureen gasped. “You near made me jump out of my skin! Can I help you at all?”
“Oh no, I’m sorry!” Carlotta said, apologetically. “I just wondered if you could send a telegram for me?”
“Oh, sure, Miss Valdez!” Laureen said. “What do you want it to say?”
When Hobie got to his trailer the next morning, a messenger boy was waiting for him with an envelope. “Telegram for you, Mr. Doyle!” he said, thrusting it to him and trotting away.
Hobie tore open the flap and read the message. THANK YOU FOR FLOWERS STOP YOURE AWFULLY CUTE STOP CARLOTTA.
Hobie grinned and climbed the steps to his trailer, whistling “Glory of Love” as he went. He might not know who he was shooting with today, but at least he knew one thing: Carlotta Valdez liked him, after all.
Weeks have passed. Both Hobie and Carlotta have toiled onwards, in their ceaseless efforts to please their overlords in the factory of dreams. For Laurence Laurentz, they have been weeks of trouble and turmoil, as actress after actress fails to meet his exacting standards. Despite this chaos, a ray of light shines for Hobie Doyle…
It was good to be friends with all your drivers, Hobie thought as he waited outside Carlotta’s house. They could tell you all sorts of things that other people wouldn’t – like when people would be leaving town. Or be back in town. He grinned at that last thought, and took out his rope, remembering the last time he had stood here and seen Carlotta for the first time. Just as he began to swing it in lazy circles, a voice made him look up.
“Hobie!” Carlotta cried in surprise. “What are you doing here?” She stood in front of her front door, looking just as pretty as the last time he’d seen her.
Hobie blushed, feeling suddenly bashful. “Well, I heard you was coming back into town,” he said slowly, coiling up his rope as an excuse to do something with his hands. “And I thought to myself, heck, I gotta go see how Carlotta’s doing!” He looked up at her and grinned. “And welp, here I am.”
It was Carlotta’s turn to blush. “Oh, Hobie,” she said, “I missed you!” She rushed down the stairs towards him, and impulsively kissed his cheek.
Hobie grinned again. “Y’did?” he asked. “Because I’m awful glad to see you too!” He looked down at the rope in his hand again, feeling its steady weight, and took a small breath. “Say, Carlotta,” he asked. “Do you want to get dinner tonight? I mean, with me?”
Carlotta’s brilliant smile made his insides light up like the first time he’d gotten on a horse. “I would love to!” she replied. Then her smile dimmed a little. “But I don’t know when I’ll be done at the studio tonight,” she said, regretfully. “They’re screen-testing me for a new movie.”
Hobie nodded slowly, realising what she meant. “They’re changing your image too?” he asked.
Carlotta gave him a determined smile. “That’s right,” she said. “I just made a Western, even, but now they want to try something else.”
“You were in a Western?” Hobie said, his eyes widening. “You gotta tell me all about it!” He gestured to his driver. “Jim here can tell me when you’re done,” he told Carlotta. “Whenever you’re finished at studio, we’re gonna go get that dinner.”
With the phone pressed to his ear, Mr. Mannix looked down at the magazine on his desk. “MORE THAN JUST FRIENDS? CUTEST COUPLE IN TINSELTOWN IN SECRET RENDEZVOUS” screamed the headline, accompanied by a photograph of Carlotta kissing Hobie’s cheek.
“Yes Mr. Schenk,” he said. “Yes, I’ve got it in front of me now.”
He listened for a minute. “No, we didn’t arrange it. I’ll have him accompany…” He broke off as Mr. Schenk interrupted him, and listened again.
“I see,” he said at last. “Yes, I can do that…. No, it won’t be a problem. Actually, I think that solves the issue nicely.”
Replacing the receiver, he looked again at the picture. “Huh,” he said, thoughtfully.
LAURENCE LAURENTZ PRESENTS
IN ITS GRAND PREMIERE
POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL
Carlotta felt her heart begin to beat faster as the film played out in front of them. Hearing the audience’s gasps and sighs at this drama felt quite different to the premieres for her earlier all-singing, all-dancing movies. Onscreen, she could see herself, clad in a lace nightgown, pale and unconscious in a large four poster bed, while Hobie, in a full suit with a crisp collar, clasped her hand. “Oh my love, come back to me!” he said, his Texas drawl showing through beneath the Laurence Laurentz vowels.
In the stalls, Carlotta glanced sideways at Hobie and grinned. She knew just how many times they had shot that scene. In return, he squeezed her hand. “Here it comes,” he said, proudly.
The image on screen faded to black, and was replaced by swirling colours and sparkling lights. Gradually, they coalesced, until Carlotta and Hobie could once again be seen onscreen. Now, though, Hobie stood in full cowboy gear, while Carlotta swayed her hips, balancing not just bananas but all manner of exotic fruit on her head.
“She’s dreaming,” Carlotta heard someone behind her whisper excitedly, as on-screen Hobie began to use his lasso to pull fruit from her head while she danced.
As the dream sequence reached its climax, a duet between the two of them with Hobie playing guitar, she glanced again at Hobie. He grinned, and mouthed the words along with himself.
“You’ve got to give a little,”
Carlotta laughed and joined in with him, mouthing along to her line.
“Take a little,”
Hobie joined back in.
“Let your poor heart break a little.
That’s the story of,
That’s the glory of love!”
On-screen, Hobie pulled Carlotta into an embrace as the credits rolled.
In the stalls, Carlotta brushed Hobie’s cheek. When his lips met hers, it was the sweetest moment she had ever felt.
This is an end of a story for Hobie Doyle and Carlotta Valdez. But it is not the end of the story, for theirs is a tale written in light everlasting.