Tuesday, August 4, 2015
I didn't have to come all the way out to here to Hollywood to do the signing, but I wanted to. It had been a long time since my last trip out here and I wanted to see how much things had changed.
As usual I waited until evening to make my pilgrimage and began exploring the streets. Eventually I found myself wandering down the Walk of Fame. I hadn't even realized it at first, which goes to show how much my head was still in the clouds from my movie deal. But when I did notice I couldn't believe whose name was on the star at my feet.
For a moment I couldn't move and had to fight back the red-stained tears that wanted to come. But I knew a man crying blood would really cause a commotion, or a land me a movie role with my luck. so I held them back and just kept staring at the star.
I remembered the first time I saw him on stage. It was my job that night to man the 'crook' (the comedic giant hook) to pull acts that were bombing off the stage (which I sometimes hated). I never liked seeing anyone fail, bu sometimes it was for the performers own good. You never knew what might get thrown at you instead of a rotten tomato. The crowds could get pretty ugly some nights.
But on this night I was told that the performer wanted it to be used. So I did as I was told. Next thing I knew this big, heavy fellow came out on stage and began singing and oh what a voice he had. It was so lovely, but some people in the crowd started booing and tossing things onstage. I didn't know it at the time, but those people were put there by the stage manager, so Mr. Arbuckle could dodge and tease as he continued his song. The man was so nimble I couldn't believe my eyes. It was like watching someone moving on air, especially when he danced. I was so transfixed I almost forgot to do my job and try to use the oversized hook to get him. But I remembered just in time and almost got him... almost. The man somersaulted out of the way and wound up in the pit with the musicians, making the audience go wild.
Afterwards, I went to find the fellow to congratulate him on a fantastic performance. As I searched for him, I asked one of the other performers where I could find the man. I hadn't caught Roscoe's name and had to describe him to which the fellow I was asking said, "Oh you mean Fatty, that's what we all call him."
Instinctively, my back stiffened. I'd known a number of soldiers who got unflattering nicknames, which they hated and I refused to repeat. Straightening up I said evenly, "The man has a real name you know?"
As soon as those the words left my lips, a voice behind me said, "Yes I do. It's Roscoe Arbuckle and I'm pleased to meet you."
Turning I saw the man I'd been seeking who gave me a big warm smile and a hearty handshake. It was the first of many encounters. I found Roscoe to have a heart bigger than his frame. He'd let me help him practice routines and songs, as well as teaching me how to take pratfalls and do comedy. I had many mentors when it came to learning how to be funny, but Roscoe was the first. I got so good, he wanted to use me out on stage, but I wasn't ready. Some of his performances took place in the daytime and of course I could only operate at night. This puzzled him at first, but later on he learned my secret (a tale for another time) and quickly understood.
But our friendship continued to grow and blossom, as did I under his guidance. By the time four brothers: Arthur, Julius, Leonard, Milton and Herbert (better known as The Marx Brothers), entered my life I was very well versed in comedy. However, when Hollywood beckoned we had to say farewell for a time. He had wanted me to come with him and I readily agreed. However, the studios insisted on some test footage be shot. Roscoe knew about my condition by this time and insisted on doing the shooting himself. So he and I, along with his cousin Al St. John shot a few scenes only to discover that film could not capture my image. The footage, which I still possess and have carefully had restored, is quite funny. It looks as thought Roscoe and Al are dealing with an invisible ghost who's handing or tossing things to them. For a brief while Roscoe thought about using me anyway for such a film, but it would've meant others finding out about what I was so the idea was scrapped and I went back to Vaudeville.
However, Roscoe and I kept in touch regularly and visited each other frequently. Every so often on a rainy day when he was shooting indoors, I got to visit the set and met his protege' Buster Keaton. As it turned out I already knew Buster from his early days as a child star when he'd performed with his parents.
I also got to meet Roscoe's dog and fellow star Luke. Luke was an English Pitbull who belonged to Roscoe's wife Minta Durfee. She'd gotten the dog as a bonus from one of her producers after she'd pulled off rather dangerous stunt for a movie. Luke was a sweetheart and took to me right away. To this day I still consider Luke one of the most talented animals I'd ever met. I often model my 'Black Puppies' after him, especially their behavior. He was such a fun dog.
Looking down at the star I sighed quietly and said, "Well Roscoe, I'm finally making my mark here in Hollywood. I hope I do you proud, old friend." With that I looked around to make sure no one was around or looking at me. Then I did a few steps from Roscoe's "Butcher Boy" film, remembering how he'd taught it to me, and then took a bow.
After that I moved on. But as I did so I heard a faint clapping coming from behind me. I turned but didn't see anyone. Not that they couldn't have been hidden someplace, but a part of me liked to think Roscoe was giving me the applause he'd always felt I'd been denied so many years ago.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
****NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I want to warn you all in advance that this particular entry is a bit heavier than some of the ones you've seen before. It deals with someone fighting cancer. So if you wish to take a pass on this entry I'll understand. I suffered a loss of someone very dear to me a few months back and it hurt to write this passage, since I drew upon a lot of the emotions and thoughts that I went through. However, this sub-story plays an important role in the main novel. So I leave it to your own discretion. I don't wish to hit anyone's 'triggers' and set you off. SPOILER: And if it's any comfort, the person fighting cancer is still around in the novel.****
Sorry I haven't been posting for a while, my life has turned upside down in the worst way possible and I don't know what to do.
About two months ago Dad went to see our family doctor, Jack Tyler. He's been our physician for as long as I can remember. Which only makes sense since he and my dad grew up together. Anyway, Dad went to see him for his annual physical. Aside from feeling a little tired for the last month or two, he didn't have any complaints. But some of his blood tests came back and something wasn't right. So there were more tests, followed by X-rays and a Cat-Scan. Long story short, he's got cancer.
Uncle Jack assured us that it was detected early and there was a good chance they could treat it with surgery. Well, the surgery seemed to go okay, but then they found it had spread to one or two lymph nodes. So they removed those as well and now he's getting chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
He's been holding up for the most part, but those therapies take so much out of him. He's lost weight and looks a bit grey some days. Plus they leave him pretty weak. Some days he mostly sleeps or just sits and reads or watches a movie or two. Uncle Jack has told us things are looking good, but he said that about the surgery so I'm not as confident in his predictions.
At this point I'm trying to spend more time with Dad. I keep feeling like I may lose him and I don't want to. I've stopped hanging out as much with my friends, except for Lisa. She's my best friend and has been trying to be there for me every step of the way. Unfortunately, she's heading to England for the summer with her family. Apparently, her godfather is over there and made arrangements to have her entire family come and stay with him for a while. I've never met the guy, but I've a lot about him. Uncle Nate is in like his twenties and is working with a professor over in London, which is someplace Lisa's always wanted to visit. She offered to ask her parents to let her stay with my family, but I told her no. If this turns out to be the last summer I have with my father I want to be with him as much as possible.
I even cut back on my school activities as soon as I knew he'd been diagnosed with cancer. The first thing I did was give up my place as head cheerleader. Both my parents told me I didn't have to do it, but I knew they'd need me, and they have It's been a rough couple of months.
Watching my dad have to sit around be tired out so easily freaks me out sometimes. I mean, he's a mail carrier. He walks miles and miles every week doing his route. Now he gets winded just moving from room to room sometimes. Which is why I need to be around for him. Mom can't always be here, so I make sure I am. He and I sit together and talk or read. Sometimes we'll watch movies, but even that's been kind of hard lately. Not for him, but for me.
I know I mentioned a while back that he loves vampire movies. They're like his all time favorite thing to watch. And until he got sick I loved them too. But now when I watch the heroes trying to save someone who's being fed on night after night by Christopher Lee or whoever's playing Dracula, I keep noticing how pale and even grey the victim looks sometimes. They're so weak and tired, after having started out so lively and vibrant earlier in the film. So instead of helping take my mind off what Dad's fighting, I get a huge reminder that I may lose him.
When I look at the television screen instead of seeing a vampire, I see some form of cancer that's taken on a human shape. And it's everywhere. Even at school I used to hang with a couple of the Goth kids, but then I stopped. All that pale make-up and dark clothing... it was too much.
God I wish Lisa were here right now. I feel so lost and alone sometimes. But I've still got my dad and I'm going to hold onto him as much as possible. I pray Uncle Jack is right and Dad is going to be okay. I just wish there was more I could do for him. I feel so helpless sometimes..
Oh, he's just woken up from a nap and is calling for me. Sounds like he wants to watch another movie with me. Talk to you all again soon. If you don't hear from me again for a while, I know you'll understand.
Ciao for now...