Hello, hello, I’ve been at work on a story trilogy dealing with some pretty heavy subject matter over the last few months and decided to break for the holidays and get away from that bit of nastiness and enjoy time with family and friends and get into a lighter, holier, head space with a short story. Enjoy, this one’s on the house, Merry Christmas! -Butch
It Was A Wonderful Life
By Andrew Cassidy
“You’re late.” Alfred said dryly, “I’ve been waiting seventeen years. I’ll need you in wardrobe immediately.”
Jimmy flashed that famous smile and drawled, “Nice to see you too, pal. Say, they assured me this was heaven on the way up, now I’m not so sure.”
Alfred did his best to hide a smile then warmly extended his hand. Jimmy pumped Al’s arm as the two shared a chuckle. “What’s all this get to work talk, Hitch?” Jimmy wondered. “I just got here.”
Alfred winced, “Yes. I get the papers. Blood clot. Rather dreadful.”
“Well, we all gotta go sometime,” Jimmy said as he looked at his shoes and shuffled his feet.
“Speaking of time, we haven’t got any.” Alfred said as he tucked his pocket watch into his large silver and black breast, smiled, and herded Jimmy toward the studio lot.
“I thought we’d have all the time in the world up here. I was hoping to maybe get in a round of golf or two, drop in on some old friends I haven’t-
“I’ll explain the rules another time.” Interrupted Alfred.
The men breezed toward the ivory gated studio, as if they floated on clouds. Jimmy pretended not to notice his old friends quicker than usual pace, flickering ahead like a sped up silent movie. He thought surely Hitch could spot the comedy in the short, fat, British legs attempting to hurry along the natural clip of the gangly American.
“Well what’s the pitch, Hitch?” Jimmy lobbed at Alfred, “Certainly you can’t be making those sex and murder pictures up here?”
Alfred straightened his back and perched his chin on his nose, “This is heaven James, I can direct the pictures I like. They all make money so everybody’s happy. If it were hell I suppose I’d be doomed to an eternity of fiery romantic comedies.”
An army of technicians flew around the set. Powdered actors and actresses rehearsed their lines as lion tamer’s cracked their whips at golden, growling beasts.
“Look alive folks! Mr. Hitchcock is on set!” bellowed an assistant.
Jimmy marveled at the ancient Roman set and said half to Hitch, half to himself, “Just like the old days huh, pal?” Again he asked, “What’s the pitch, Hitch?”
Alfred took a seat and cleared his throat, “The Ten Commandments.”
Jimmy exploded, “The Ten Commandments! You?”
Alfred whispered with a wink, “Yes. It’s quite violent.”
“Of course.” chuckled Jimmy as he sat, stuck a cigarette in his mouth and struck a match.
Alfred pursed his lips, leaned over in his chair and blew it out. “Can’t smoke up here,” the director informed his actor.
“Oh, right, I see.” Jimmy put the cigarette behind his ear and continued, “The Sphinx over there is marvelous. Did you really have to build all this? I figured up here they’d have all this biblical stuff just lying around.”
“I didn’t agree with the lighting.” Alfred retorted.
“Ready when you are, Mr. Hitchcock!” called out another assistant.
Alfred stood and commanded, “Roll the B camera on the lions, Mr. Stewart needs a little more time.”
Jimmy scratched his chin, “Wonder what I’ll look like with the beard?”
“Beard?” asked Alfred.
“Moses had a beard,” Jimmy reminded his director.
“Kirk Douglas is playing Moses.” Alfred informed James.
“Mm, good choice, ” nodded Jimmy. “Now where does that leave me?” he wondered.
“Well as you can imagine, it’s rather difficult to cast a proper villain up here. It’s quite the dilemma.” explained Alfred.
“Mm, right.” agreed Jimmy.
“I need you to dig deep, James and put on your damnedest, damn Ramses, old boy.” Alfred exclaimed, as he conceded a rare show of enthusiasm.
“Ramses! Me? No, no, no,” implored Jimmy.
“I’ve been in talks with John Garfield for some time to bring him up but his agent, I’m afraid, is one hell of a negotiator, James,” sighed Alfred.
Jimmy paused and lensed wholly the excitement of the enormous, holy set. The lights, the cameras, the action. His heart cranked up to speed as he heard the call for “Roll sound!”. Jimmy looked his old friend dead in the eyes and stammered out excitedly, “Time for a show, Al! Time for a show! I always liked a stiff martini or two before playing a heavy. Get me a script and a drink!”
Alfred tilted his head, confused, and replied, “The Boss doesn’t allow alcohol up here I’m afraid. Why it’s as dry as that fake desert up here.”
Jimmy shot out of his chair like a champagne cork, his words bubbling from his throat, “Oh, hell with this, pal. It’s time for an exodus. I’m going down and having a drink with John. Good luck, old friend.” Jimmy lit his smoke, turned, and parted the crowd on his way to the elevator.
“The elevator’s broken, James. You’ll have to take the stairs.”