It was nearly three o’clock by the time Gil was able to pull into the parking lot of his office once again. Locking up his car he strode at once into the building’s entrance and through the lobby to the elevators again, this time avoiding notice by DeVon, the huge black security guard who was now intent on watching, as nearly as Gil could make out from the tiny TV set, a Dodgers game in progress. Hurrying to the elevator he went straight up to the tenth floor and entered the large reception room of his suite of offices.
Rosie was still at her desk, not really doing much of anything, but in addition in a far corner of the room behind a larger desk sat a tall statuesque black woman dressed in a neatly tailored suit who was busily going through what looked like a stack of incoming mail. At Gil’s approach they both looked up.
“Oh, hi Gil,” said the black woman, standing up and coming over from around her desk to greet him. “Sorry I didn’t see you earlier when you were here for your meeting. I was in the production office getting together some mailing.”
“Yeah,” Gil replied, “Rosie told me.”
“Ah, you’ve met our newest jewel, have you?”
At this Rosie gave a little blush and began busily but needlessly looking through a Rolodex file as if intent on finding something.
“Yeah,” said Gil again, “quite a girl we’ve got here. How’s she doing, Georgie?”
“Just fine, Gil, just fine. She’s a hard worker, pays attention, and she looks great and has a winning personality. What more could you want from a temp? After the first couple days I’ve had no qualms about leaving her alone in the office.”
Georgie was in fact Georgina Jordan, FineHall Productions’ office manager for the last six or seven years. She was, as previously mentioned, tall without being heavily built. At nearly six feet in height she was only a few inches shorter than Gil with a slim, still-trim body. Though only a few years younger than Gil, she had a much more youthful appearance. Her muscular arms and legs provided a not-so-subtle reminder of the professional tennis star she had been in her youth in the seventies, winning titles at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Her stately bearing but genial sympathetic attitude gave her an demeanor that somehow was both authoritative and maternal.
“That’s good to hear,” replied Gil.
“So,” prompted Georgie, “I understand your meeting was over hours ago. What are you doing back here? Forget something?”
“Well, yes and no,” Gil said, glancing over at Rosie who seemed to be trying her best not to take any notice of their conversation. “In fact, I was wondering if you could do me a favor. Are you guys real busy this afternoon?”
Georgie shook her head. “No, not really. It’s Friday and unless you’ve got other ideas or something unexpected comes up, I’m going to close the office as usual around five. I just want to make sure,” she added, “that I have everything in its place and securely locked up before the weekend maintenance people come in.”
“Yeah,” joked Gil, “you know how they like to steal unproduced scripts.” They both laughed, although Gil continued, “But to tell you the honest truth, I don’t think anyone would steal this one. Not if they’ve had a good look at it. Tell me, Georgie, you’ve had a look at this script. You must have. You’re the one who made copies for everybody, right? What do you think of it?”
“Well, Gil,” Georgie admitted, “I must confess I did sneak a tiny little peek at it while I was running it off. But you know I don’t like to mix in production business.” She gestured around the room and then towards the door which led to the hall and the other offices. “I’ve got my hands full just trying to keep this place in order and running smoothly. But here”—she leaned over toward him as if imparting a confidence—”if you ask me, it sorely needs some punching up. I don’t know how we’re going to get people to see this thing in its present form.”
“Just what I was thinking,” said Gil, “and that brings me to my next question.” He went over and stood in front of Rosie’s desk, Georgie following him. “I was wondering if you could maybe spare Rosie for the rest of the day. I’ve got something special I want her to do for me.”
Georgie shrugged. “I don’t see any problem there, Gil. Nothing here for the next couple of hours I can’t handle by myself.”
“Great,” he said, “but fill out her timecard for the rest of the day.” He gave Rosie a big grin. “We don’t want you losing any money, do we?”
Rosie spoke up for the first time. “Thank you, Mr.—I mean Gil. I appreciate it.”
As if struck by a sudden thought Gil asked her, “How much are we paying you anyway?”
Rosie considered for a moment then said, “Well, I don’t know what you’re paying, but my share from the temp agency is about eight dollars an hour.”
Gil did a little figuring in his head. He wasn’t as good as Money, but this was pretty simple. “So,” he continued, “after taxes, you’re making what? About two seventy-five a week?”
“Yes,” replied Rosie, “at least that’s what they gave me last week. This is only my second week here.”
“Okay,” said Gil, “here’s the question. How would you like to come away with me for the weekend?” He put his hands out immediately, palms upward. “No, don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking you for a date, this would be a working weekend. I want to go to a little resort up in the mountains and try to improve this script Georgie and I were talking about. And it would be great to have a secretary, somebody I can kind of get to order my thoughts for me,” he finished self-deprecatorily. “I’m not too good at writing these things down, you see. Have you, uh, got anything going this weekend? Boyfriend? Parents? Anything like that?”
“No,” she shrugged, “not really, in fact I’d love to go. I haven’t been out of the city since I got here last year. And don’t worry, I’m real good at taking dictation.”
“Great,” said Gil, looking somewhat relieved. Then he turned to Georgie. “What’s our petty cash situation?”
“Real good,” she answered without hesitation. “I just cashed the usual expense check last week and we’ve still got several thousand left in the safe.”
“Okay,” he said, “give Rosie two hundred dollars as pay for the weekend. Charge it to something, you know, casual labor, secretarial services, something like that.”
“No problem,” Georgie said, going over to the safe which stood in the opposite corner. She quickly whirled the combination, opened the safe and took out the required sum, locked the safe again, then went back and handed it to Gil.
Gil in turn handed it to Rosie saying, “Will this be sufficient to rob you of a free weekend? I mean, after all, you’ll be getting free room and board in what I hope will turn out to be a luxury hotel.”
Rosie quickly took the money from Gil and stowed it away in her purse which she had brought up from under the desk.
“So then,” said Gil, “are we ready to go?”
“Sure,” said Rosie, retrieving her purse and standing up then looking at Georgie. “If it’s okay with Ms. Jordan, that is.”
“Sure honey,” said Georgie, making a shooing motion with her hand. “You run along now and have fun.” She turned to Gil and added severely, “Now don’t work this poor girl too hard.”
“Oh, don’t worry,” said Gil, “I won’t. This’ll be more or less a fun weekend.”
Rosie wrinkled her brow. “There’s just one thing,” she said. “I need to turn in my timecard by seven or I won’t get paid as usual next Wednesday. If it’s late I have to wait a whole week.”
“That’s a good point,” said Georgie, concerned. “Gil?”
“No problem,” he said. “We can swing by there on the way out. Where’s the temp office located, Rosie?”
“Well,” she said, “it’s all the way downtown at Sixth and Hill.”
“That’s okay,” said Gil, “it’s kind of on the way anyway. We’re going to take the Harbor Freeway out of town.” Then turning to Georgie he continued, “Oh, one more thing. We might decide to stay over Sunday night, which means we probably wouldn’t get back until early afternoon Monday, so I’d like to give Rosie the whole day off—” He glanced at Rosie. “Of course with pay—so Georgie, why don’t you call this afternoon and arrange for another temp just for the day on Monday?”
“Okay,” she shrugged, “no problem there. But Rosie dear, we expect to see you back first thing Tuesday morning. I’d really rather not have to train somebody else.”
“Oh, don’t worry,” replied Rosie, smiling at Georgie. “I like this job. I’ll be in bright and early Tuesday.”
“Okay then, that’s settled,” said Gil, turning to leave as Rosie followed him toward the door. “Let’s go to your place and you can pick up some stuff for the weekend. I know you’ll need clothes and other stuff.” He gave her what he considered to be a suave grin. “Girls always need stuff like that for the weekend.” Calling back over this shoulder he said, “Hold down the fort, will you, Georgie?”
She gave him a neutral look. “As ever,” she said. And then Gil and Rosie were out the door.
As they walked around to the parking lot Gil asked her, “Have you got a car?”
“No,” she replied, “I don’t drive. And besides, I don’t think I could afford a car here anyway. So I just take the bus.”
“Gosh,” said Gil, looking genuinely perplexed, “that must be kind of rough on you. I know how it is,” he continued. “I didn’t have a car when I first got here either. Man, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with those stupid buses anymore.”
“Oh, they’re not so bad,” said Rosie with a shrug. By this time they had reached Gil’s T-bird. “Wow,” she said, “is that your car?”
“Sure is,” said Gil proudly. “What do you think of my baby?”
“Gee,” she said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a car like this before. It’s so little and cute. What kind of car is it?”
Gil was beginning to acutely feel the generation gap. “I’ll have you know,” he said a bit stiffly, “that this is the classic 1956 Ford Thunderbird convertible. When it came out it was one of the best American sports cars, at least as good as the Chevy Corvette Stingray and not nearly as expensive. Climb in.” While he was speaking Gil had unlocked both doors and taken the club off the steering wheel. “So let’s go,” he said, staring the engine. “Where do you live?”
“That’s easy,” she said. “I’m just around the corner on Wilcox. There’s a residence hotel there called the Mark Twain. I can rent a room there for only ninety-five dollars a week.”
Gil gave a shudder as he put the car in gear and pulled out onto Sunset, obviously remembering his years on Alvarado Street. “Is your room okay?” he asked hesitantly.
“Well, it’s no palace, but the bed’s okay and they don’t mind me having a hot plate and a microwave, so I do all right.”
By this time Gil had made an illegal left turn off Sunset onto Wilcox and was pulling up in front of the aforementioned hotel.
“I’ll only be a few minutes,” she said, getting out of the car. “Just let me throw a few things into a suitcase.”
“That’s okay,” said Gil breezily, looking at his watch for effect. “I know how it is.”
Ignoring that last, Rosie skipped up the step and disappeared into the building.
After twenty-five minutes Gil was drumming his fingers on the steering wheel and whistling abstractedly as she finally reappeared, lugging two apparently heavy suitcases with a large garment bag draped over one shoulder.
Gil looked at her for a moment in astonishment then, remembering his manners, quickly jumped out of the car and hurried around to help her with her load. “Let’s put these in the trunk,” he said, grabbing one of her suitcases and the garment bag. “It’s a small trunk but I think this stuff will fit.” He gave her an insincere chuckle. “If I’d known you were going to take all this stuff I’d’ve brought the SUV.”
Again she took no notice of his banter but concentrated on stowing one of her suitcases into the open trunk.
Gil then closed the trunk, pressing down on it hard with the palms of his hands until he finally got it to latch. Then they both got back into the car and Gil, without further ado and few other comments, drove her downtown to turn in her timecard. Fortunately he was able to find a semi-legal parking space only about twenty yards from the office building on Hill near Sixth.
As she got out of the car once again she told him reassuringly, “Don’t worry, this time I’ll be back in a few minutes. I don’t even have to go into the office. They have a box on the door that I can just drop it into.”
“Okay,” he said, “but I’m holding you to that. I kind of want to get on the road before the traffic gets too bad and it’s going on four now.”
She gave him a sweet smile and a wave and turned and went into the building, skipping as she went, reminding Gil of a Shirley Temple movie he had seen. True to her word she was back within ten minutes, and when she had settled herself back into the front bucket seat again Gil started the engine and quickly made for the Harbor Freeway going east and north out of town.