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 scenario department.
“Not like the old days,” he mourned. “Then there was a bottle on every desk.”
“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…”
READ THE ENTIRE STORY (ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN ESQUIRE, JANUARY 1940) AT PROJECT GUTENBERG HERE.
The Pat Hobby Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald are available at Amazon.com.