PART III: AFTER // Chapter Nine: How He Got Back Again: 7

But as it turned out Gil did not need his handy-dandy gold Rolex alarm. He awoke naturally at a little after eight, feeling well rested and for some reason at this godawful time of the morning cheerful. He supposed that it was due to his being at long last in the midst of completing a project which to him was worthwhile. But he also knew that an even larger part of his sense of well being was that the previous day he had actually been able to lay off the booze. He had drunk only beer during the afternoon and with his huge barbecue meal at dinner had followed it up with more beer. It wasn’t until after ten o’clock that he had hit the scotch and then he had had only a few weak drinks before turning in shortly after Rosie.

He glanced over towards her bed and noticed that she was still asleep, so he got up and tiptoed to the bathroom, shutting the door quietly behind him. Within fifteen minutes he had showered and shaved and upon returning to the bedroom dressed in another five. Then he carefully tiptoed around his bed and over to Rosie’s.

She was lying on her side, facing away from the wall, and giving little perfunctory snorts that made Gil’s heart melt. He then bent down and kissed her gently on the forehead, saying, “Good morning, Rosie. Who’s for breakfast, then?”

She opened her eyes dreamily and murmured a few incoherent phrases. Then as her eyes focused on Gil, he continued, “Now wasn’t that better than a wakeup call from Fast-Draw Frankie?”

“Mmmm,” she said, “much better.” Then she reached out her arms and pulled him down on the bed on top of her.

Amazingly, Gil felt neither lust nor sexual arousal, but put his arms around her and hugged her tightly without speaking, then after a few moments released her and stood up saying, “Well, it’s about eight-thirty, I’m sure you want to get ready for breakfast. Me,” he pounded himself like Tarzan, “I’m hungry as a bear.”

She laughed at this, but got up and walked to the bathroom in her nightgown, gathering some fresh clothing from the closet as she went. Fifteen minutes later she reappeared, freshly showered, dressed and, Gil could swear, freshly perfumed as well.

They went down to breakfast and each of them ordered the farmer’s breakfast which consisted of two fried eggs, home fried potatoes, and thick slices of fried ham with red-eye gravy, and two slices of Texas toast on the side, which fortunately were not also fried. Together with a never-ending pot of strong black coffee, this made for a very satisfying breakfast indeed.

Halfway through, Rosie remarked with glee, “This is certainly better than my usual breakfast of cornflakes.”

Gil laughed and imitated a movie gangster. “Stick with me baby,” he said, “and you can eat like this all the time.”

She returned his quip with an expression of mock horror. “Oh no,” she said. “I’d better not. In six months at this rate I’d start to look Shelley Winters. In fact—” she put her hands on her belly— “I think I’ve already gained two or three pounds this weekend.”

Having lived with a woman for nearly twenty years Gil was quick to pick up his cue. “You sure don’t show it,” he said with mock seriousness.

Then they went back to the room and within a few minutes Gil was pacing about describing scenes and dialogue from Water Over the Bridge while Rosie pounded away on Olive, her mini-typewriter, until Gil could swear the paper was almost smoking.

By twelve-thirty they were about three-quarters finished with what Gil thought to be a pretty respectable first draft and called a halt. He noticed that Rosie was beginning to get a glassy look in her eyes and was shaking her hands as if to attempt to restore her circulation. Turning around to face him she said, “If you’ve got much more of this, we’re going to have a problem.”

“Why is that?” Gil asked, looking concerned.

“Well, the fact is,” she admitted, “I didn’t bring that much paper. I thought at the time we were only going to do some revisions. I’m almost down to my last sheet.”

Gil brightened. “No problem,” he said, and picked up the phone. “Hello, that you, Mr. Melson? Do me a favor will you, send Walter or whoever’s on duty now up here?” A pause. “Don’t worry, it won’t take long and he’ll be very well compensated. That’s right. Thank you, Mr. Melson.” He hung up the phone.

Within a few minutes there was a knock at the door. Gil opened it and Walter appeared. “You sent for me, Mr. Hall?” he said in his best Michael Anthony impression.

“Yes,” Gil said. “We’ve been working on a script and we find we need more typing paper. Anyplace around here you can get some?”

Water took off his hat and scratched his head thoughtfully. “Well,” he said, “this bein’ Sunday, only place I know is there’s a Kinko’s about a quarter mile down the strip. I can go down there and get you some, but it might take me maybe half an hour. That okay with you?”

“No problem,” said Gil. “We were going to break for lunch anyway. You’ve got a key. Just bring it up and put it on the table near the typewriter.” He pointed to where Rosie was sitting and asked her, “You want anything while he’s out?”

“Well,” she replied hesitantly, “as long as you’re going, Walter, I wouldn’t mind another six-pack of Diet Pepsi and, I don’t know, maybe some kind of chocolate cookies?”

She was obviously getting into the spirit of room service, Gil thought.

“Sure,” said Walter, “no problem. I’ll just hit the store and go across the street on the way back. Anything for you, Mr. Hall?”

“Hmm, yeah,” he said slowly, “you know, I had some great beer yesterday but I forget what kind it was.”

“Well,” said Walter helpfully, “it was in the saloon, right?”

“Right,” Gil replied. “It was uh, a draft beer.”

“Well, far as I know, we only got four kinds of the good stuff. Was it Lagunitas?”

“Yeah,” said Gil, snapping his fingers. “That’s it, Lagunitas.”

“Was it Pils or IPA?”

“IPA,” Gil replied.

“Sure, let’s see if I’ve got this straight. Oh, how much typing paper you want?”

“Whatever it comes in,” Gil replied, clueless about such things as his office manager Georgie Jordan took care of such minor details. “Uh, maybe a few hundred sheets or so?”

“Sure,” Walter said again, “no problem. Let’s see, that’s a ream of paper, a six-pack of Diet Pepsi, a six-pack of IPAs, that’s probably gonna run you, oh, maybe twenty bucks or so.”

In reply Gil went over to a chair and extracted his billfold from a pocket of his lucky brown corduroy jacket. He waved a couple of bills at Walter. “Twenty for the stuff and twenty for you. That suit you?”

Walter straightened up and practically saluted. “Sure thing, Mr. Hall,” he said, opening the door. “I’ll get right on it.”

After he was gone, Gil and Rosie went down and had another great lunch of bacon cheeseburgers, beer for Gil and Diet Sprite for Rosie.

By one-thirty they were back in the room and as promised there was a ream of typing paper placed beside Olive. Beside the ream of paper to Rosie’s delight was a bag of Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies. Gil went to the mini-fridge and noted with approval that the two requested six-packs had been crowded into it. There was even a bucket of ice on the counter near the fridge. Gil to his credit took only one longing look at the nearly full bottle of Johnny Walker Black sitting on the table near the television, then sighed, went to the fridge again, pulled out a beer for himself and a can of Diet Pepsi for Rosie. Then they went back to work.

It was nearly five-thirty when Gil once again decided it was time to give Rosie a break. He reckoned that they had finished just about the entire script. At least with Gil’s general indications and Rosie’s suggestions and modifications, he thought they had a script that would stand initial scrutiny by anyone in the business. Hopefully, he thought with a slight shudder, that included his wife.

Noticing that Rosie had stood up and was shaking and massaging her arms and hands, Gil said, “Well my dear, I think that’s a wrap.” Then he pumped his fist in the air and added, “Yeah!” And then impulsively he ran over, threw his arms around Rosie, and hugged her so tightly she had to fight for breath.

As he released her and began capering about the room Rosie took several deep breaths, then looked at him in amazement and said, “Do you do that every time you finish a screenplay?”

He stopped, turned around and replied honestly, “I dunno, first time. Tell you what though. Let’s go down to Winnie’s Wild West Saloon and celebrate. Whaddaya say?”

She looked at him a bit doubtfully, but then remembering the events of the past two days as opposed to the events of Friday night, brightened, shrugged and said, “Sure. Why not?”

A few minutes later Gil burst through the doors of the aforementioned saloon with Rosie following close behind. “Jimmy,” he called out, “my man!”

Jimmy turned away from the newspaper he was reading and looked up. “Oh it’s you, Mr. Hall,” he said, obviously unperturbed by Gil’s outburst. “What’ll it be, scotch or beer?”

“Neither,” said Gil as he and Rosie seated themselves on stools at the bar in front of Jimmy. “A bottle of your best champagne. We just finished writing a major screenplay!” Gil held up his hand in the high-five position and Jimmy, knowing what to do, slapped it vigorously.

“Well congratulations, Mr. Hall.” Then he turned around and began rummaging round a cooler, adding over his shoulder, “I’ve got just the thing.” His hand emerged holding a bottle of Moet Chandon Brut which he placed on the counter with a couple of champagne glasses. “You wanna pop the cork or shall I?”

“I’ll do the honors,” said Gil, grabbing the neck of the bottle and beginning to untwist the wire.

Rosie put her hands up and shut her eyes tightly. “Just point that thing away from me, will you Gil?” she said apprehensively. 

Gil pointed the bottle towards the end of the bar away from Rosie and Jimmy and with a loud explosive pop the cork sailed toward the opposite wall, finally coming to rest on the table of a couple of very surprised bar patrons.

One of them, an old man, stood up and began looking around wildly. Gil quickly said, “Oh, I’m sorry. Kind of got carried away, you know?” Then as if suddenly struck by inspiration, he stood up and yelled, “Drinks for everyone, on me!”

The other four people in the bar applauded politely while the old man sat back down, apparently mollified.

So Jimmy poured drinks for everyone, and everyone had a really swell time until the champagne was gone and Rosie remarked a little unsteadily, “Hey Gil, I think I’ve pretty much had my limit. Let’s go back to the room, okay? I wanna take a little nap before dinner.”

To her surprise Gil did not object. “Yeah,” he said, “I guess you’re right. We’ve had our celebration. No use getting too sloshed and not be able to enjoy another great dinner, huh?” He winked at Jimmy who grinned at him.” Then he got up, took Rosie by the arm and said, “This time I get to lead you up the stairs.”

By eight-thirty Rosie was refreshed after having had her nap, and even Gil had pretty much sobered up. So they went down to dinner and gorged themselves on the Sunday special, which turned out to be Kansas Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy and lots and lots of creamy cole slaw.

They returned to their suite about an hour later and Gil sat down on the couch, rubbed his stomach and said, “Boy, that was a good meal.”

“Yeah, wasn’t it,” said Rosie. Then she stretched and yawned. “I’m sorry Gil, but I’m really beat.” She gave him a mock frown. “Some vacation. I don’t usually work this hard when I do secretarial temp work.”

“Gosh, I’m sorry,” Gil said, taking her seriously. “I guess that was a lot of typing, huh?”

She smiled and went over to him on the couch and kissed him lightly on the forehead. “That’s okay,” she said, “I was only half-kidding anyway. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. I mean, helping you create what I think is a really good screenplay was certainly worth the effort. But now if you’ll excuse me I’m gonna go to bed. Do me a favor and don’t wake me up till breakfast, okay?”

“Sure,” said Gil, “you got it. Same time as today?”

“That’ll be fine.” Then she turned and went into the bedroom, closing the door behind her.

As soon as she had gone Gil picked up the phone and had room service bring up some more ice and Perrier. When it had been delivered by the night kid, Kenny, Gil made himself a not-too-strong drink and checked the TV channels. Luck appeared to be with him, for at nine-thirty, which was only a few minutes away, Turner Classic Movies was showing what Gil thought would be a great double feature—Out of the Past and Night of the Hunter. You can’t go wrong, Gil thought, with a classic Bob Mitchum double feature.

And so he settled down to watch, sipping his drink slowly, only very occasionally refilling it. His thoughts were those of a man who felt suddenly liberated from a prison in which he had not known he was confined. He couldn’t put it into words, but what he felt was the creative past of his brain awaking from its decades-long slumber and beginning slowly and somewhat stiffly to stretch its muscles, like the leg muscles of a sedentary office worker who decides to take up jogging. Even though he told himself he was half-copying what he remembered from seeing the movie itself, there was still much that he had been forced to create on the fly, so to speak. Sort of as if he had been developing the screenplay from someone else’s ideas.

At the end of the double feature he too yawned and decided to call it a night.

The next morning began much the same as the previous one. Gil was up and showered, shaved and dressed before waking Rosie. Then they went down to breakfast. Checkout time wasn’t until noon but they had discussed it and Gil said that they might as well leave right after breakfast as soon as they were packed, so as to get an early start and beat the afternoon traffic.

By ten o’clock they were packed and Gil was down at the front desk, reminding himself to be civil to Fast-Draw Frankie. And the best way to do that was simply to sign the bill without comment. This he was able to do and Melson gave him the cordial but canned speech about how wonderful it was to have them as guests and hoped that they would return soon. Gil just nodded noncommittally and asked Melson to summon Walter for the baggage.

In the parking garage Rosie watched as Gil and Walter, with great difficulty, managed to force all of the bags, including Rosie’s Saturday purchases, into the small trunk of the T-bird. Finally they shook their heads at each other and stowed the remaining three bags in the little storage space behind the front seat of the convertible.

Rosie watched all this with astonishment as Gil seemed to be in continuous good humor, not showing the slightest irritation over the luggage as he had on the way up when there was considerably less of it. To her mind, the change in him between Friday, when he had appeared as simply the usual Hollywood self-absorbed rich VIP, and the last two days, in which he had seemingly transformed himself into a sensitive, thoughtful and creative guy, was nothing short of miraculous. She wondered at this briefly as she got into the car.

Gil was just returning after having hunted up George Utley the attendant and given him an additional tip. “Well,” he said, swinging himself into the driver’s seat and taking the club off the steering wheel, “shall we?”

“Sure,” she said, “time to get back to reality, I guess.” She leaned over and grabbed his shoulder. “Thanks for the weekend though. Great food, and I wouldn’t have missed the experience for anything.”

“Quite all right,” said Gil. Then he looked across at her and added mysteriously, “there’s plenty more where this came from.”

Then they set out on the road, laughing and joking about really nothing in particular. Traffic was light and it was not yet one o’clock when Gil turned off the freeway onto Hollywood Boulevard and then proceeded toward Wilcox where Rosie’s residential hotel, the Mark Twain, was located. He realized three things as he drove the last mile or so: one, that he didn’t want the weekend to end either; two, that he didn’t want to leave Rosie; and three, that he was now on the threshold of beginning a second career. Unfortunately however, he had to integrate it with his first career. And that would be the problem.

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