Ring. . .ring!
“Hi, there. What kind of mood are we in this morning?” advertising man Sammy Simpson purrs.
“Filthy,” says Darling, the society editor, uttering her first word of the day into the phone next to her bed.
“Haven’t we had our morning pint of blood? Maybe I can brighten up our day, then. How about a little choice somethin’ for the column, sweet ’urns
“Sammy. . .is this for an advertising account, perchance?”
“Cross my heart.”
“Okay. Try me.”
“You know, of course, Ben Kraft died.”
“Well, did you hear about his wake?”
“Wake? I didn’t know he was Irish.”
“In spirit, Darling. Anyhow. . .his chum, if you know what I mean, had a wake for Ben at the Kraft mansion with the body-of-honor in his tuxedo watching the festivities – and they were festive! – from his favorite easy chair.”
“No. . .I’m right. The wake went on for 12 hours. That’s why there still aren’t a dozen hairdressers or decorators in town in any shape to speak of.”
“You mean Ben’s boyfriend staged this. . .this orgy. . .with Ben in the front row seat?”
“Please, Darling. A wake.”
“Sammy, you know I can’t use one word of that. I’m writing for society, not one of those grocery store check-out stand magazines. Dallas socialites aren’t going to swallow this with their meals. Perversion with coffee? No way. You knew that, ducky. Tell me, did that crowd of gay celebrants include any advertising execs?”
“How rude. Suffer, Darling, just suffer. What might have been yours is lost forever.” (Click.)
Darling lies in her bed trying to fulfill her narcoleptic fantasy, as she has every waking-up time for the past two years. On the night table are her tinted glasses to hide her bloodshot eyes. Her fashionably long and polished nails are unprofessional for her typing chores. The former sorority girl is slightly overweight, but the long evening gowns which are her uniform hide the extra 15 pounds. Her morning face is smudged with last night’s war paint, and somehow she vaguely remembers making another date mad by saying something bitchy at some party sometime during the long, long evening of work, work, work.
Ring. . .ring!
“Darling, Jane Stewart here. Mr. Foster Larson wanted me to invite you to his 63rd birthday party,” the professional PR woman for the professional philanthropist Larson chirps.
“Jane, I’d love to, but we don’t cover birthday parties,” Darling sweetly sings back. She is relieved to have an official out from covering the publicity seeker’s natal day.
“Oh, I’m so glad to hear you’d like to come, because Mr. Larson had me check with your editor.”
“What did she say?”
“Why, she said that since it was Mr. Larson, you could make an exception to that rule.” Jane is obviously thrilled about the trap. Jane had noticed that the press was getting harder and harder to attract to Mr. Larson’s activities. “I’m marking your name for a nice Christmas gift from the Larsons,” she bubbled to Darling.
“Oh God, more New York State champagne,” Darling bubbled to herself. Darling realizes she has been set up and decides to take some revenge.
“Jane. I’m really glad you called. There’s something I wanted to ask you. Didn’t the Larsons have an orphanage dedicated to their honor a couple of weeks ago?”
“Oh, yes. We sent you a press release. You ran a picture. Remember?”
“The picture’s what I wanted to ask you about. . .I understand that Mrs. Larson refused to be in the picture at first. Someone said she objected because they were going to have her holding a black child.”
“Oh, no, Darling. You’ve got the facts wrong. I remember now. Mrs. Larson had this terrible cold and was scared she might infect the child.”
“But wasn’t she scared she might infect the white kid they finally used?” Darling says, sweetly. A pause at the other end. “Darling, my other phone is ringing. Have to run. See you Friday at the Larson mansion.” (Click.)
“I’ve got to get some sleep after that,” Darling closes her eyes again, trying to put the birthday party out of her mind.
“Hello, Darling. Three of the ladies can’t make the picture Wednesday. Can we change it?” Rose Hampton is calling about a publicity picture.
“No, I have a better idea. Let’s change the ladies. If they have something important to do, I understand. . . and I hope they understand that this picture can’t wait. It’s been scheduled for three weeks,” Darling snaps, disliking the sound of her own voice. Maybe she did need her pint of blood.
“All right,” Rose bristles, then gets coy, “Oh, did you know about Winston Patterson Clark. He is furious with your write up on his wife’s Bazaar Ball.”
“Why should he be mad? The food was horrible and the party was a joke. Doesn’t he realize how idiotic it was to have 18 baton twirlers coming out of that Volkswagen bus?”
“Well, of course,” Rose is loving it, “but he says it’s not your job to tell the truth in a case like this. It was all for charity. Actually, he said. . .are you ready for this? He said crippled children won’t walk because of you. He’s telling everybody. . .and I mean everybody. . . that next year’s Bazaar Ball will be a flop because of your write-up. They may even cancel it.”
“It’s just as well. There are too many charity balls in Dallas as it is,” Darling retaliates. Click!
“Darling. . .Webster Addison calling. Just one moment and he’ll be with you.”
Why would Webster be calling? He’s still manager of that television station, isn’t he?
“Hello, Darling. Sorry to bother you at home, kid, but there are a couple of things I need your advice on.”
Advice to Webster Addison? Darling was shaken. Webster was the pillar of integrity in the local communications game. Why, only a year or so ago he had started the station which now was waging war against the local establishment. At a party recently he had declared to Darling that none of his people were allowed to receive freebies, gifts, or even go on press junkets. He was now calling Darling for advice.
“Are you there, Darling?”
“Of course, Webb. . .how can I help you?”
“Well, we’re putting together a series on the social racket in Dallas. . .you know, all the game-playing, artificiality. That crap. But we’re also going to bring out the good points to it. I guess I’m trying to say, we’re going to do an objective piece on Dallas society and we want you to help.”
“Oh, Webb. . .I couldn’t go on camera. I’d be glad to help if I can. . .only, my name won’t be used, will it?”
“Only if you want it to.”
“No, I’d lose a lot if it were. . .like my job!”
“Well, there’s one other thing you can do that’s in your line.”
“Well you see, kid. . .to kick off the series we’re going to have a party, with all the biggies in Dallas society, and I was wondering if we could get society coverage. . .an article by you. . .out of it. You know, some publicity.”
“Sure, Webb. Just let me clear it with my editor.”
Darling, reluctantly leaving her sleepand getting out of bed, realizes she’sbeen had again.
Ring. . .ring!