Just Good Friends

By Emma Redmer

It's obvious that Scott and Maple have known each other for a long time, but just how long have they known each other, where did they meet, and how? I thought I'd try to answer these questions.

Disclaimer - Maple LaMarsh/Annie Murdock/Holly Wood and Scott Sherwood belong to Rupert Holmes and Howard Meltzer Productions. The rest of the Murdock family, Edmund Hammad, and any other original characters are mine.

This set set before "On the Air" with a prologue and epilogue during "Two For the Price of One".

May 13th, 1941 - Studio A, WENN, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I watched Scott Sherwood closely as we performed the new morning soap opera "Two Can Live As Cheaply As One". I thought I'd actually get a straight answer earlier when I asked him about his reasons for coming back to WENN after he'd gotten thrown out. Shows how much I know. Scott's changed a lot since we first met, but not that much. He can still smooth-talk anyone out of or into anything. He did it to Papa when I first met him in Brooklyn in 1924. That's how I met him, in fact. I was, at that time, just another love-struck fifteen-year old, and Scotty was my first "grown-up" crush...

January 6th, 1924 - Royale Theater, Brooklyn, New York City, New York

"Come on, goils, lift dem gams! Waddya think dis is, the Bronx Zoo? I seen chimps who can kick betta!"

That's my papa. He's director, owner, head writer, and headliner (or so he calls himself) of the Royale Vaudeville Theater. It used to be called the Hudson, but Papa thought that "Royale" sounded fancier and might attract more customers. He bought it a long time ago, before the Great War, when he and Mama were still living together. She thought he was loony. Papa had wanted to settle down. He'd been traveling all his life. Mama walked out on him two days after he purchased the theater. They never legaly divorced and she comes and visits us whenever she's in town, which isn't often. Mama mostly plays the mid-west and the west coast. She likes the action out there, and the space.

"Hey, Annie, are ya gonna come out and reherse with us, or are ya just gonna sit there all day and stare at the chorus dames?"

"Coming, Maureen!" Maureen's my oldest sister. She's getting married to one of the stagehands in three months. Papa must have finished with the chorus girls, 'cause they were all heading backstage to the dressing rooms. I have an older brother, Patrick, but he joined the Army during the Great War and seemed to prefer it to show biz. I have two younger siblings, too, Dolores and Mike. All of us but Mama and Pat are part of the family act, the Murdock Troopers. We dance and sing to the tune of old and new popular songs. Papa taught us all how to play the organ so we can acc-om-pan-ie each other. I hurried over to join the rest of my family when a man in the center of the stage stopped me cold.

He was boyishly handsome, the kind of guy who would put Douglas Fairbanks to shame. His hair was coal black and as shiny as the patent leather shoes he wore. His chocolate-brown eyes twinkled like the lights on the marquee outside the Royale. He was well-built and well-dressed. I wondered what he was doing on a grimy old vaudeville stage in the middle of Brooklyn. Guys like him belonged in Hollywood or on Broadway. I suddenly became concious of my threadbare rehersal clothes. I wished with all of my heart that it was right before a show. Then I'd be in costume and made up and pretty. "I've had plenty of theatrical experience, Mr. Murdock," he was saying to my papa.

Papa's not stupid. He knows a good thing when he sees it. "I watched your audition. You were pretty darn good. You're a fine-lookin' kid. What's ya name again, mister?"

"Not mister. Scott Sherwood." He shook Papa's hand and smiled. Cripes, his smile turned me into mush. And he was signing on with the Royale? My knees got all weak. I nearly fell over Maureen, who was giving me funny looks. Dolores and Mike were whispering to each other and giggiling. I didn't care. I'd just seen the man of my dreams. He walked over to us. I tried to breathe normally.

"Hi, I'm Scott Sherwood. Mr. Murdock hired me to fill the bill when the magician got sick." He had a deep, rich voice. It was the kind of romantic voice that I'd imagine Tom Mix or Francis X. Bushman having if they ever talked. I finally managed to stand on my own. Maureen held out her hand and did the introductions. I gave him the smile that the chorus girls call sexy and shook his hand. His hand was rough, and I wondered if he'd been in the Great War like Patrick. He might have been in Pat's regiment, but I doubted it. I woulda remembered if Pat had mentioned a Scott Sherwood. Scott ruffled Mike's hair and handed Dolores a pretty silk rose from outta nowhere.

I couldn't con-sen-trate on rehersal that day, or for the rest of the time that Scott worked at the Royale. Papa was so happy with him after that first week that he hired him for a whole year. He usually did fifteen-minute sketches with Maureen and her friend Rose, who was the Royale's second female lead. The sketches were often spoofs of then-popular Broadway plays and musicals. I would make a pest of myself waiting for them backstage and often missed my cues when I played the piano for their sketches. I'd never felt this way about any of the numeralous boys I'd dated before. Most of them had been male performers at the Royale or boys I went to school with. They'd seen New York, maybe New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Scott saw Europe and Africa. He had been in the Great War. He had traveled across the US in many famous plays and revues. He went to school in Europe. He'd seen so many things that I'd never even heard of. He seemed to have real class.

My crush on Scott ended a few days before Maureen got hitched. I waited in Scott's dressing room as he and Maureen took their bows after doing a sketch satiring a long-running Broadway musical, "Sally", a sort of modern-day version of "Cinderella". Maureen was supposed to be Marilyn Miller, the famous blonde dancer for whom the original show was written, but she looked silly in the butter-yellow wig and frilly dresses, and she wasn't all that great of a dancer, either. I planned to tell her so at home tonight. I thought that Scott was wonderful. Anything he did in those days was wonderful to me. He seemed to like me, too. He flirted with me, or so I thought it was flirting.

Scott was awarded his own "dressing room" as part of the new contract he and Papa had drawn up. It was about the size of a storage closet, 'cause that's what it used to be - the closet for the brooms and soap buckets. Scott had barely been able to fit a vanity and a costume rack into the tiny space. The room was filled with stuff, despite its size. Clothes, make-up, costumes, scripts, sheet music, papers, and bunches of real and fake flowers were scattered all over. I found a glass of cloudy water on his vanity and dumped the half-wilted carnations that I bought for him into it. I'd spent my entire allowance (all five cents) on them and was proud of them and myself. I hoped that this would prove to Scott that I really liked him.

I noticed a piece of paper that had been left under the glass as I sat in a spintering chair. It was crumpled and stained with coffee and greasepaint. I read the word "Resume" on top. The next words were crossed out, but they kinda looked like "Edmund Hammad". Who was Edmund Hammad? I very nearly passed out when I read the resume. Every single thing on the paper that Edmund had done was something that Scotty had done, too. It fit his stories perfectly. Edmund also went to European schools. He traveled from coast to coast in the touring editions of popular Broadway revues. I didn't believe it. Had Scott lied to me and my family? Why else would he have this paper? I was still trying to figure it all out when Scott himself came into the room.

He wore his costume from the "Sally" sketch, a white and black tuxedo, and carried a big bunch of fake roses, which he tossed on a pile of clothes. His back was turned to me and to the vanity. He was taking off his tux jacket and smoothing his hair while whistiling "Look For the Silver Lining". I cleared my throat to get his attention. He turned to me and grinned. Normally I would have melted then and there, but not tonight. Tonight I lost my ability to melt.

"Hi there, kid," he greeted me cheerfuly. "Nervous about your sister's wedding?"

I shook my head no. I was close to tears, but there was no way I was going to cry in front of Scott Sherwood. I kept my voice firm as I said "Look, Scott, there's somethin' I really have to talk to ya about."

He stepped behind the vanity to continue changing. I went on, feeling more and more con-fi-dant as I talked. "I found somethin' in your dressing room."

I could hear laughter coming from the other side of the vanity. "Don't tell me my clothes are developing a life of their own. I've already heard about it from both Maureen and your dad."

"Scotty, I don't care about your messy dressing room. Papa's always yellin' about mine." I continued before I lost my nerve. "I read your resume. It was under that glass on your vanity."

Scott poked his head out from behind the vanity. He wore his shirt and tie and was half-way through buttoning his pants. He looked surprised for the first time since he came to work at the Royale. "What do you mean, you read my resume, kid?" He finished buttoning his pants and and walked over to the coat rack. He selected a navy coat and put it on.

"I meant what I said. I read your resume. Or should I say I read Edmund Hammad's resume?" My voice cracked on the last few words. He just stood there, staring at me with sad eyes. How could he be so cool and calm? "You lied to me! You lied to Papa, and to my whole family! WHY?!" I screamed the last words. I couldn't believe that I had ever trusted Scott Sherwood.

He put a hand on my shoulder. I shrugged it off. "Look, kid, I might as well tell you the truth. I did lie. I have no experience in the theater. I didn't go to school in Europe. I went to public school in Massachusetts. I was in the Merchant Marines for two years before I got tossed out for sassing officers and running some scams that you wouldn't want to hear about. I'm a con artist pure and simple, not Douglas Fairbanks or Rudolph Valentino."

"Why us?" I wailed. "Why did you choose to scam us?"

He shrugged. "No special reason. I just came in from Africa and I needed money. The trouble is, I didn't think I'd like acting so much. This is the first time I ever acted professionaly. I let everything that your dad said about my acting ability go to my head."

"Who's Edmund Hammad?" I asked.

Scott's face hardened. He was almost scary. His eyes weren't warm and twinkling anymore. "Edmund Hammad was a spoiled playboy who joined the Merchant Marines in order to meet more European women. That's the only reason he ever did anything. We were bunkmates, but he treated me like a hired hand simply because I was a butcher's son from Nantucket and he was the son of a oil baron who had more money than all the movie stars in Hollywood. Edmund was killed in a freak accident during basic training. I found his resume among my papers and kept it with me when I was discharged. I didn't think of using it for myself until I was on a steamer bound for New York."

I couldn't look at him anymore. He didn't care about me, or Papa, or my sisters and brothers, or the Royale. All he cared about was money. "I get it. You just want the clams. Ya stole the resume from a dead man!"

"Annie, that's the kind of guy I am," He confessed cooly. "I'm not a knight in shining armor. I had only planned on working here for a week and splitting afterwards, with no one the wiser."

I stood up and did something I'd never done before. I reached up to slap him across his pink face, but he caught my wrist before I could hit him. I was really mad. "Say, you've got a lotta guts, for a fifteen-year old, Annie Murdock," he said softly and sadly.

"Get away from me!" I shouted. Tears and greasepaint ran down my cheeks, but I really didn't care. I felt hurt and angry. "I never wanna see you again, ever!"

"I turned my resignation over to Mr. Murdock before tonight's performance. I'll be gone tomorrow morning." He took the resume from me, crumpled it up, and threw it in the overflowing trash can. "I should have crossed Ed Hammad's name out better. I'm just glad your pop never asked to see it."

I slid back into the chair, sobbing heavily. Scott took his hat and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "You're a good kid, Annie. If you ever need any help at all, just ask for Scott Sherwood. I'll be around." He left. The last notes of the orchastra's closing music drowned out my faint sobs and my first broken heart.

So always Look For the Silver Lining
Try to find
The sunny side of life.

*******************************************************

May 17th, 1930 - Apollo Diner, Chicago, Illinois

I never thought I'd see Scott Sherwood again. Then again, I never figured on being stranded in the Windy City with no job, no man, no place to hang my hat, and exactly two bits and a battered brown suitcase to my name, either. I was sitting in the Apollo Diner on the Chicago waterfront, feeling very down on myself and on life in general. The show I was touring with, "The Zelterbaum Frolics of 1930", had, like everything else in America, suddenly gone broke and was forced to close. I'd been given two weeks notice and a very small salary that was barely enough for a mouse to live on, much less a twenty-one-year-old woman. I was thrown out of my room in the run-down boarding house by my landlady, who'd wanted the rent in advance. I thought that I'd be able to nicely ask my then-boyfriend Jake, the rehersal pianist for the "Zelterbaum Frolics", for the dough before the old battle-ax could kick me out. I called his place eight times before two of my friends from the "Frolics", Trixie and Laverne, told me that he'd eloped with Viola, another one of the former "Zelterbaumn Misses". Not only that, but he'd been seeing her behind my back the entire time we were dating!

I'd started calling myself Holly Wood by this time; it sounded far more glamorous to me than Anna Maria Murdock. I'd bleached my red hair blonde and was growing out my bob. My older sister, her husband, and Papa had all offered to loan me money, but I said no. I wanted to prove that I had done the right thing by dropping out of high school to make it big in show buisness, and not the Royale, either. Besides, they all needed the clams even more than me. The Royale was losing money fast, and Papa sold almost everything he owned in order to keep it from shutting down. Maureen and her husband Jimmie just couldn't stop having kids. They had three already, and there was another one on the way.

I was so depressed that I didn't even see Scotty sitting there. I was leaning over my coffee and watery meatloaf when I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I looked up and there he was, the guy who's face I'd tried to smack six years ago. He was older and his face was slightly weather-beaten, but there was no mistaking those twinkiling brown eyes or that dimpled, cock-eyed grin. He wasn't dressed nearly as well, though. The Depression seemed to have gotten to him, too. His cheap navy suit was rumpled and his tie was lightly stained with something brownish-green. He was seated on the stool next to me at the chipped bar.

"Hey there, kid. Long time, no see." He took off his hat to reveal his ebony hair, shiny as ever. "I almost didn't recognize you. You make an interesting blonde."

I shook my head, surprised that he even remembered me. "Hello, Scott Sherwood. First of all, could you stop calling me kid? I ain't a kid no more. I'm twenty-one years old. Second, what are you doin' here? Papa went through hell to find a new leading man after you resigned!"

Scott ordered coffee and the spaghetti platter from a waitress clad in a dull tan-and-white uniform before answering my questions. He flirted so outrageously with the rather plain woman that she blushed to the roots of her short, mousy curls. I couldn't help giggling. He spoke when she left.

"After I quit your pop I tried getting job at another theater, but it didn't pan out, so I headed west and ran some deals with an aquaitance of mine. Remind me to tell you about the zeppelin service that I flew in one of these days, kid..uh, Annie. I landed in Chicago when that scheme turned out to be full of hot air. I thought I try doing something on the right side of the law for a change, so I went out for my private detective license, got it, and here I am, fighting against corruption and maintaining and sometimes disturbing the peace." I knew that there was more to his story than that. There's always more to the story when it comes to Scott Sherwood. I also knew, however, that I wasn't going to get any more out of him tonight. He'd talk when he was ready.

We sat together in silence for a while. He chewed on his spaghetti and looked thoughtful. I finished my meatloaf and started in on the coffee. The diner was emptying. There were a few couples sitting in the booths and two old men jabbering at the other side of the bar.

"Do you have a place to stay, Annie?" he asked me. When I shook my head no, he smiled. "I have an apartment down the street from here. It's not exactly the Waldorf-Astoria, but it has two rooms and a great view of a vegtable canning factory."

I laughed. "Sure, Scotty. Just for tonight. I'm gonna look for a job in the morning, but I don't mind shackin' up with you. Just keep your hands off, ok?"

Scott stood up and bowed. "I'll be a perfect gentleman."

"You betta," I told him. "And, by the way, my name's Holly Wood now, not Annie." I was still mad about him running out on Papa, but that was six years ago. Times were tough, and it was either sleep in Scott Sherwood's apartment or sleep in a bus station. I'd slept in enough bus stations to know that I didn't really want to wake up in the morning with a stiff neck and a bum with bathtub hooch on his breath staring me in the eye.

Scott's place was made up of three rooms with cracked plaster walls and a moldy bathroom. I passed out on the couch in the kitchenette/living room the minute my head hit the pillow and I didn't wake up until I smelled bacon frying and heard someone whistling along with Charles King on the radio.

Scott stood in front of the tiny stove, tossing pepper on what smelled like fried eggs. I could see four strips of bacon laying on the counter next to the stove. A bottle of milk sat on the little round table, which had been set with two yellowed plates and tarnished silverware. Raindrops pattered on the roof and plunked into a ratty tin pan two inches from the couch. Scott looked great. He wore a striped shirt and a pair of wrinkled gray pants. The shirt was open at the neck and the thin, sweat-stained undershirt barely contained his muscular chest. His feet were bare and his black hair wet and uncombed. All in all, it wasn't a bad way to start the morning, despite the weather.

I streched and sat up. I needed coffee and a newspaper. I had to read the want-ads if i ever planned to find a job. Scott turned from the burners and faced me. "Top o' the morning, Annie..uh, Holly. Here, I made us breakfast." He leaned casually on the stove as I sampled his gor-met cu-sine. Five seconds later, he was sitting at the table loudly cursing himself and the stove. I filled a bag with ice from his small icebox and applied it to his burn. It was not a pretty sight.

"Aw, Scotty, quit yellin' at the stove," I scolded. I sounded like Papa, but I barreled on anyway. "You're the one who was dumb enough to stick your arm on the burner in the first place." He scowled and grabbed the ice bag from me.

"This is just great," he muttered. "I have an important client to meet in...oh, would you look at the time." He leaped up out of the chair and went into what I gathered was his bedroom. I ate breakfast and read the paper. There were more bread lines than employment lines listed. Scott was an ok cook (when he wasn't cooking his arm), but I couldn't rely on his generous-osity forever. I had to find somewhere to work. I wasn't going to live on the streets. I promised Papa that I would never sink that low.

Scott entered in a old brown raincoat and socks and shoes. The shoes shined with fresh polish and he'd ironed his pants. He nodded at the paper. "It's hard to find a job these days, isn't it, Holly?"

I sadly agreed. "I'll get up and go as soon as I finish breakfast. I guess I should do the dishes, since you made the eggs and bacon."

Scott put his hand on my shoulder. There was genuine concern in his big brown eyes. "Do you have a place to stay?"

"I'm sure that one of my buddies from the 'Zelerbaumn Frolics' can put me up for a few days while I look for work. There's gotta be one show in Chicago that would take me in their chorus or hire me to play the piano," I insisted. I didn't feel as cheerful as I sounded, and my face must have given me away.

He shook his head no. "Why don't you stay here until you find a job? My couch is open and I have plenty of grub."

"I don't know how long that would be. Considering how bad the eco-nonomy is nowadays, it may be the twelfth of never," I protested. He shrugged.

"That doesn't matter. You need help." He looked me straight in the eye. "Holly...did you ever tell your pop about the resume?"

I shook my head no. "I didn't see what good it would do. He was mad enough as it was when you took off like you did. He drove us all to exertion until he found a fella to replace you."

Things went along this way for about two weeks. I slept on Scott's couch and spent most of the day answering ads in the paper. I barely saw Scott. He was working on an important case, or so he claimed. He often left before I got up in the morning. I meant to ask him about his case, but I never had the chance.

There wasn't much work out there for a girl who only knew one business - show business. Stage musicals were scaling down their chorus lines and Hollywood had mostly given up on musicals. It wasn't a good time to be a performer. No one felt like being cheered up by a song and dance routine. I was getting desperate. I couldn't sleep on Scott's sofa the rest of my life.

My luck - and Scott's - changed two weeks later. It didn't seem that way at first. I'd come from an audition for the chorus of a speakeasy revue, "David Green's Naughties", but I didn't make it past the first run-through. I was on my way out (and almost in tears) when I saw the headline on the paper that an apple-seller had left behind the LaSalle Theater. MGM talent scouts were in Chicago, searching for girls to appear in the chorus line of their newest big-budget musical "The March of Time". I'd have to move out to California if I got the job, but that wouldn't be so bad. I'd heard that it was a wonderful place, warm, sunny, and full of orange trees and movie stars. Mama was already out there, singing her heart out in Vitaphone shorts for Warner Brothers/First National.

The line for the MGM audition was half-way down the block when I got there, but I didn't care. I wanted this job. I needed this job. I clutched my faded purse and joined the line. The gal in front of me wore a slightly faded pink suit and shoes. Her hat was a tight pink cloche. I could see the ends of a copy of "Variety", the show biz trade paper. She was flipping through it, probably looking for auditions, like me.

I felt as if I aged ten years before I finally got to the front of the line, but it had only been fifteen minutes. I stepped up to the polished wood desk. A pretty woman with wavy golden brown hair and big hazel eyes was taking names on a sheet of winter-white paper. I was about to give her my name when I felt a rough hand on my shoulder.

"She's with me, Cheryl," Scott said. He wore his fedora low over his eyes, and I thought I saw a bad bruise on his left cheek. He grabbed me into the next room, which was dimly lighted and empty.

"Scotty!" I exclaimed as he took off his hat and revealed a bruise the size of Al Jolson's ego on his face and cuts on his upper lip and forehead. "What happened to you? Or do I want to know? Whoeva you were doing business with really gave you the business."

"I was doing a job for a minor mobster who wanted me to tail these two guys that he believed were scamming him," he explained. "As it turned out, thoses two guys were major gangsters who sent toughs of their own to bump me off their case and off the face of the planet." He winced as he applied pressure to his bleeding forehead. "Man, this town's getting too hot for me. I'm getting outta here before I have half the mob breathing down my neck."

"Scotty, I'm going to try out for a Hollywood musical! A big one!" I said excitedly. "This could be my big break! I could be the next Bessie Love or Joan Crawford!"

Scott shook his head. "Nahh, Holl, this show ain't ever getting on the road. A buddy of mine who works for MGM said that he heard from a friend of a friend of Irving Thalburg's private secretary that the studio is thinking about pulling the plug on 'The March of Time'". It's costing too much money and musicals are bombing right and left." He tried for one of his grins, but his split lip made him wince instead. "We'll go to California anyway. I heard from some contacts of mine out in California who invented this great H2O Gasoline formula that will revolutionize the fuel industry and make us both millionaires! We could be business partners. You're a bright girl, and a real looker, too. So, are you in?"

I sighed. Scott's idea sounded as phony as a three dollar bill and I doubted that it was legit. But my prospects in Chicago were looking increasingly dim and I didn't wanna go crawling back to the Royale and hear Papa say "I told ya so" in that smug voice that he always uses when he knows that he's won an argument. I told him that I'd live on my own and make my own money and that he wouldn't have to worry about me and I had every intention of doing just that. California was supposedly the cat's meow - Mama sure seemed to enjoy it, and Pat had been stationed in LA a few times and had loved it. What did I have to lose?

"Sure," I finally told him, "I'm in."

It began to rain as we walked out together huddled under Scott's worn umbrella. We discussed California and MGM as a radio blasted away somewhere on the teeming streets.

I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Singin'
Just Singin' in the Rain

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