The Pat Hobby Stories eBook: Page1
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1940)
A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook
Title: The Complete Pat Hobby Stories
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
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Date first posted: December 2004
Date most recently updated: December 2004
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Title: The Complete Pat Hobby Stories
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
Pat Hobby's Christmas Wish
Esquire (January 1940)
A Man in the Way Esquire
"Boil Some Water--Lots of It"
Esquire (March 1940)
Teamed with Genius
Esquire (April 1940)
Pat Hobby and Orson Welles
Esquire (May 1940)
Pat Hobby's Secret
Esquire (June 1940)
Pat Hobby, Putative Father
Esquire (July 1940)
The Homes of the Stars
Esquire (August 1940)
Pat Hobby Does His Bit
Esquire (September 1940)
Pat Hobby's Preview
Esquire (October 1940)
No Harm Trying
Esquire (November 1940)
A Patriotic Short
Esquire (December 1940)
On the Trail of Pat Hobby
Esquire (January 1941)
Fun in an Artist's Studio
Esquire (February 1941)
Esquire (March 1941)
Mightier than the Sword
Esquire (April 1941)
Pat Hobby's College Days
Esquire (May 1941)
PAT HOBBY'S CHRISTMAS WISH
Esquire (January 1940)
It was Christmas Eve in the studio. By eleven o'clock in the
morning, Santa Claus had called on most of the huge population
according to each one's deserts.
Sumptuous gifts from producers to stars, and from agents to
producers arrived at offices and studio bungalows: on every stage
one heard of the roguish gifts of casts to directors or directors
to casts; champagne had gone out from publicity office to the
press. And tips of fifties, tens and fives from producers,
directors and writers fell like manna upon the white collar class.
In this sort of transaction there were exceptions. Pat Hobby, for
example, who knew the game from twenty years' experience, had had
the idea of getting rid of his secretary the day before. They were
sending over a new one any minute--but she would scarcely expect a
present the first day.
Waiting for her, he walked the corridor, glancing into open offices
for signs of life. He stopped to chat with Joe Hopper from the
'Not like the old days,' he mourned, 'Then there was a bottle on
'There're a few around.'
'Not many.' Pat sighed. 'And afterwards we'd run a picture--made
up out of cutting-room scraps.'
'I've heard. All the suppressed stuff,' said Hopper.
Pat nodded, his eyes glistening.
'Oh, it was juicy. You darned near ripped your guts laughing--'
He broke off as the sight of a woman, pad in hand, entering his
office down the hall recalled him to the sorry present.
'Gooddorf has me working over the holiday,' he complained bitterly.
'I wouldn't do it.'
'I wouldn't either except my four weeks are up next Friday, and if
I bucked him he wouldn't extend me.'
As he turned away Hopper knew that Pat was not being extended
anyhow. He had been hired to script an old-fashioned horse-opera
and the boys who were 'writing behind him'--that is working over
his stuff--said that all of it was old and some didn't make sense.
'I'm Miss Kagle,' said Pat's new secretary.
She was about thirty-six, handsome, faded, tired, efficient. She
went to the typewriter, examined it, sat down and burst into sobs.
Pat started. Self-control, from below anyhow, was the rule around
here. Wasn't it bad enough to be working on Christmas Eve? Well--
less bad than not working at all. He walked over and shut the door--
someone might suspect him of insulting the girl.
'Cheer up,' he advised her. 'This is Christmas.'
Her burst of emotion had died away. She sat upright now, choking
and wiping her eyes.
'Nothing's as bad as it seems,' he assured her unconvincingly.
'What's it, anyhow? They going to lay you off?'
She shook her head, did a sniffle to end sniffles, and opened her
'Who you been working for?'
She answered between suddenly gritted teeth.
'Mr Harry Gooddorf.'
Pat widened his permanently bloodshot eyes. Now he remembered he
had seen her in Harry's outer office,
'Since 1921. Eighteen years. And yesterday he sent me back to the
department. He said I depressed him--I reminded him he was getting
on.' Her face was grim. 'That isn't the way he talked after hours
eighteen years ago.'
'Yeah, he was a skirt chaser then,' said Pat.
'I should have done something then when I had the chance.'
Pat felt righteous stirrings.
'Breach of promise? That's no angle!'
'But I had something to clinch it. Something bigger than breach of
promise. I still have too. But then, you see, I thought I was in
love with him.' She brooded for a moment. 'Do you want to dictate
Pat remembered his job and opened a script.
'It's an insert,' he began, 'Scene 114A.'
Pat paced the office.
'Ext. Long Shot of the Plains,' he decreed. 'Buck and Mexicans
approaching the hyacenda.'
'The hyacenda--the ranch house.' He looked at her reproachfully,
'114 B. Two Shot: Buck and Pedro. Buck: "The dirty son-of-a-
bitch. I'll tear his guts out!"'
Miss Kagle looked up, startled.
'You want me to write that down?'
'It won't get by.'
'I'm writing this. Of course, it won't get b
rat" the scene won't have any force.'
'But won't somebody have to change it to "you rat"?'
He glared at her--he didn't want to change secretaries every day.
'Harry Gooddorf can worry about that.'
'Are you working for Mr Gooddorf?' Miss Kagle asked in alarm.
'Until he throws me out.'
'I shouldn't have said--'
'Don't worry,' he assured her. 'He's no pal of mine anymore. Not
at three-fifty a week, when I used to get two thousand . . . Where
He paced the floor again, repeating his last line aloud with
relish. But now it seemed to apply not to a personage of the story
but to Harry Gooddorf. Suddenly he stood still, lost in thought.
'Say, what is it you got on him? You know where the body is
'That's too true to be funny.'
'He knock somebody off?'
'Mr Hobby, I'm sorry I ever opened my mouth.'
'Just call me Pat. What's your first name?'
'Well, listen Helen: What do you say we have dinner?'
On the afternoon of Christmas Day he was still trying to get the
secret out of her. They had the studio almost to themselves--only
a skeleton staff of technical men dotted the walks and the
commissary. They had exchanged Christmas presents. Pat gave her a
five dollar bill, Helen bought him a white linen handkerchief.
Very well he could remember the day when many dozen such
handkerchiefs had been his Christmas harvest.
The script was progressing at a snail's pace but their friendship
had considerably ripened. Her secret, he considered, was a very
valuable asset, and he wondered how many careers had turned on just
such an asset. Some, he felt sure, had been thus raised to
affluence. Why, it was almost as good as being in the family, and
he pictured an imaginary conversation with Harry Gooddorf.
'Harry, it's this way. I don't think my experience is being made
use of. It's the young squirts who ought to do the writing--I
ought to do more supervising.'
'Or else,' said Pat firmly.
He was in the midst of his day dream when Harry Gooddorf
unexpectedly walked in.
'Merry Christmas, Pat,' he said jovially. His smile was less
robust when he saw Helen, 'Oh, hello Helen--didn't know you and Pat
had got together. I sent you a remembrance over to the script
'You shouldn't have done that.'
Harry turned swiftly to Pat.
'The boss is on my neck,' he said. 'I've got to have a finished
'Well, here I am,' said Pat. 'You'll have it. Did I ever fail
'Usually,' said Harry. 'Usually.'
He seemed about to add more when a call boy entered with an
envelope and handed it to Helen Kagle--whereupon Harry turned and
'He'd better get out!' burst forth Miss Kagle, after opening the
envelope. 'Ten bucks--just TEN BUCKS--from an executive--after
It was Pat's chance. Sitting on her desk he told her his plan.
'It's soft jobs for you and me,' he said. 'You the head of a
script department, me an associate producer. We're on the gravy
train for life--no more writing--no more pounding the keys. We
might even--we might even--if things go good we could get married.'
She hesitated a long time. When she put a fresh sheet in the
typewriter Pat feared he had lost.
'I can write it from memory,' she said. 'This was a letter he
typed HIMSELF on February 3rd, 1921. He sealed it and gave it to
me to mail--but there was a blonde he was interested in, and I
wondered why he should be so secret about a letter.'
Helen had been typing as she talked, and now she handed Pat a note.
To Will Bronson
First National Studios
We killed Taylor. We should have cracked down on him sooner. So
why not shut up.
'Get it?' Helen said. 'On February 1st, 1921, somebody knocked off
William Desmond Taylor, the director. And they've never found out
For eighteen years she had kept the original note, envelope and
all. She had sent only a copy to Bronson, tracing Harry Gooddorf's
'Baby, we're set!' said Pat. 'I always thought it was a GIRL got
He was so elated that he opened a drawer and brought forth a half-
pint of whiskey. Then, with an afterthought, he demanded:
'Is it in a safe place?'
'You bet it is. He'd never guess where.'
'Baby, we've got him!'
Cash, cars, girls, swimming pools swam in a glittering montage
before Pat's eye.
He folded the note, put it in his pocket, took another drink and
reached for his hat.
'You going to see him now?' Helen demanded in some alarm. 'Hey,
wait till I get off the lot. _I_ don't want to get murdered.'
'Don't worry! Listen I'll meet you in "the Muncherie" at Fifth and
La Brea--in one hour.'
As he walked to Gooddorf's office he decided to mention no facts or
names within the walls of the studio. Back in the brief period
when he had headed a scenario department Pat had conceived a plan
to put a dictaphone in every writer's office. Thus their loyalty
to the studio executives could be checked several times a day.
The idea had been laughed at. But later, when he had been 'reduced
back to a writer', he often wondered if his plan was secretly
followed. Perhaps some indiscreet remark of his own was
responsible for the doghouse where he had been interred for the
past decade. So it was with the idea of concealed dictaphones in
mind, dictaphones which could be turned on by the pressure of a
toe, that he entered Harry Gooddorf's office.
'Harry--' he chose his words carefully, 'do you remember the night
of February 1st, 1921?'
Somewhat flabbergasted, Gooddorf leaned back in his swivel chair.
'Try and think. It's something very important to you.'
Pat's expression as he watched his friend was that of an anxious
'February 1st, 1921.' Gooddorf mused. 'No. How could I remember?
You think I keep a diary? I don't even know where I was then.'
'You were right here in Hollywood.'
'Probably. If you know, tell me.'
'Let's see. I came out to the coast in sixteen. I was with
Biograph till 1920. Was I making some comedies? That's it. I was
making a piece called Knuckleduster--on location.'
'You weren't always on location. You were in town February 1st.'
'What is this?' Gooddorf demanded. 'The third degree?'
'No--but I've got some information about your doings on that date.'
Gooddorf's face reddened; for a moment it looked as if he were
going to throw Pat out of the room--then suddenly he gasped, licked
'Oh,' he said, and after a minute: 'But I don't see what business
it is of yours.'
'It's the business of every decent man.'
'Since when have you been decent?'
'All my life,' said Pat. 'And, even if I haven't, I never did
anything like that.'
'My foot!' said Harry contemptuously. 'YOU showing up here with a
halo! Anyhow, what's the evidence? You'd think you had a written
confession. It's all forgotten long ago.'
'Not in the memory of decent men,' said Pat. 'And as for a written
confession--I've got it.'
'I doubt you. And I doubt if it would stand in any court. You've
been taken in.'
'I've seen it,' said Pat with growing confidence. 'And it's enough
to hang you.'
'Well, by God, if there's any publicity I'll run you out of town.'
'You'll run ME out of town.'
'I don't want any publicity.'
'Then I think you'd better come along with me. Without talking to
'Where are we going?'
'I know a bar where we can be alone.'
The Muncherie was in fact deserted, save for the bartender and
Helen Kagle who sat at a table, jumpy with alarm. Seeing her,
Gooddorf's expression changed to one of infinite reproach.
'This is a hell of a Christmas,' he said, 'with my family expecting
me home an hour ago. I want to know the idea. You say you've got
something in my writing.'
Pat took the paper from his pocket and read the date aloud. Then
he looked up hastily:
'This is just a copy, so don't try and snatch it.'
He knew the technique of such scenes as this. When the vogue for
Westerns had temporarily subsided he had sweated over many an orgy
'To William Bronson, Dear Bill: We killed Taylor. We should have
cracked down on him sooner. So why not shut up. Yours, Harry.'
Pat paused. 'You wrote this on February 3rd, 1921.'
Silence. Gooddorf turned to Helen Kagle.
'Did YOU do this? Did I dictate that to you?'
'No,' she admitted in an awed voice. 'You wrote it yourself. I
opened the letter.'
'I see. Well, what do you want?'
'Plenty,' said Pat, and found himself pleased with the sound of the
Pat launched into the description of a career suitable to a man of
forty-nine. A glowing career. It expanded rapidly in beauty and
power during the time it took him to drink three large whiskeys.
But one demand he returned to again and again.
He wanted to be made a producer tomorrow.
'Why tomorrow?' demanded Gooddorf. 'Can't it wait?'
There were sudden tears in Pat's eyes--real tears.
'This is Christmas,' he said. 'It's my Christmas wish. I've had a
hell of a time. I've waited so long.'
Gooddorf got to his feet suddenly.
'Nope,' he said. 'I won't make you a producer. I couldn't do it
in fairness to the company. I'd rather stand trial.'
Pat's mouth fell open.
'What? You won't?'
'Not a chance. I'd rather swing.'
He turned away, his face set, and started toward the door.
'All right!' Pat called after him. 'It's your last chance.'
Suddenly he was amazed to see Helen Kagle spring up and run after
Gooddorf--try to throw her arms around him.
'Don't worry!' she cried. 'I'll tear it up, Harry! It was a joke
Her voice trailed off rather abruptly. She had discovered that
Gooddorf was shaking with laughter.
'What's the joke?' she demanded, growing angry again. 'Do you