Hollywood Shorts: Screwy

Charles Ray was a popular juvenile star in the 1910s and ’20s, but by the ’30s, his career was on the rocks, and he turned to writing. Here’s “Screwy,” the final tale from his book, Hollywood Shorts, a collection of short stories set in Tinseltown.
*    *    *
“My, your cigar makes a red glow in the darkness.”
“So does your cigarette, Helen.”
“Let’s quit the stalling, Bert. Why did you get me up here?”
“You ought to know.”
“I don’t.”
“You have a pretty good idea.”
“Now don’t try to frighten me!”
“Don’t tell me that you could be frightened.”
“What should I say?”
“Say what you feel.”
“I feel like a drink.”
“Help yourself, if you can find it in the dark.”
“You’re not a very nice host.”
“Here, I’ll pour it for you.”
“You avoided my question.”
“Did I?”
“Listen, Bert, I heard a gun shot in the hall.”
“That was a motor exhaust in the street.”
“You’re lying. Now I am getting frightened.”
“Don’t be silly. Turn on the lights.”
“I won’t!”
“Then I will!”
“If you move from this divan, you’ll regret it!”
“Listen to me, it’s time I know why you got me here.”
“You’ll find out when the time comes.”
“That time is now!”
“No, it isn’t.”
“This has gone far enough!”
“And don’t talk in grunts.”
“I’ll talk plenty when the mug gets here!”
“Bert, have you gone mad? I’m being held for—“
“You are.”
“This is an outrage. I have a gun in my bag!”
“But you won’t use it.”
“What makes you think I won’t?”
“Because your father is the mug I’m waiting for.”
“I always knew you were a cad!”
“Those are silly words.”
“These aren’t. Get a load of this!”
“Well, you ought to be careful about empty guns.”

*       *       *       *

“I’m askin’ yuh, Al. Imagine havin’ tuh learn such screwy dialogue?”
“You said it, Aggie, but it’s got to be done. Screwy writers!”
“Let’s relax and hoof it around the studio lot a while.”
“Okay. No kiddin’, I’ll bet this picture is goin’ tuh smell!”
“Don’t listen so good.”
“Wonder why they wanna write such stripe for?”
“I give up.”
“Ain’t writers clucks?”
“They pain me in the neck!”
“Writers are what make so many pictures flops.”
“I’ll say!”
“Bet this one flops!”
“Yeah. Still it’s full of action.”
“That covers a lotta plot.”
“You said a mouthful!”
“Well, if this one’s oak, then I’m a goof!”
“How’d yuh mean yeah?”
“Just kiddin’.”
“You’re a fresh punk. I mean it’s writers that make fold-ups.”
“Sure. How long yuh been in pictures?”
“Coupla years. Came right from high school.”
“Didja graduate?”
“Naw, hell with it. I wanted to try an’ get into picture dough.”
“Don’t take nothin’ but breaks to get to the dough.”
“An’ how!”
“I been in now two years—’bout—a little shorta. No break yet.”
“Say, yuh know what I beena thinkin’ since we been walkin’?”
“I donno.”
“We beena talkin’ the most natural dialogue.”
“Guess we have. An’ cause why? ‘Cause we been unconscious.”
“That’s right, just what I mean.”
“If writers could only write natural stuff like that—“
“They’d be knockouts.”
“They’re a screwy lot. Let’s skip ’em.”
“Oak by me.”
“Let’s go into the whatsit restaurant place. Didja eat yet?”
“No can do. On the ol’ diet stuff. Fer tha figure.”
“Can’t yuh squat on a stool an’ keep me company?”
“Okay, an’ we’ll run that lousy dialogue again.”
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