“Where? And when?” he asked. “And do try to calm down. You are totally incoherent when you get over-excited.” He spoke slowly and quietly, still keeping a hand on Cassidy’s shoulder.
“Sorry, Jim,” Cassidy took a deep breath. “Just now, at Morgan’s.”
Armstrong strapped on his gun belt, grabbed his hat, and went striding out the door. Cassidy had to run to catch up.
“It was Big Bart, Jim,” he said.
“Oh? Ok, how many were there, Cas”? I’ll need to talk to them all.”
“Well...uh...there were about ten, but when Bart and his boys showed up, they slipped out quick and quiet like.”
“Cut! Cut!” another voice shouted.
Cassidy and Armstrong stopped and turned. “Ok, Steve, what’s wrong this time?” Armstrong asked.
“The whole damned thing, that’s what!” Steve growled. “This is the worst script it has been my misfortune to have to try to direct - ever!”
“Well, yeh, but then why did you agree to do it?” Cassidy asked.
“It’s like this. Mr. Lastor has always been very generous in backing great plays for me. Now he is insisting on this one, because his wife wrote it. He doesn’t want to upset her.”
“Does he have any idea how bad it is? No matter how hard we try, it’s not even going to make the B list. More likely the F list - for flop!” Armstrong said
“I think he knows, he’s just afraid to tell her. Ever met her? She is one forceful, determined woman!” Steve grinned.
Armstrong, aka Tom Simmons, one of the top leading men in Hollywood, sighed and sat down on the edge of the stage. “Yeah,” he said. “I had that dubious honour.” He sighed.
“That bad, huh?” said Cassidy. His real name was Clarence ‘Clancy’ Hoolihan. “You know, every time I have to say one of those lines, I have a real fight just to keep from breaking up.” He stood and stared at the other two.
Steve stared at Clancy for a moment. “Clancy!” he exclaimed. “You’ve got it!” He started pacing, getting more excited and positive as he went on.
“Huh?” grunted Clancy.
“A comedy! Make it a real farce! Ham it up for all you’re worth.” Steve went on excitedly.
Tom’s head slowly came up, he looked at Steve, then at Clancy, as big grins gradually spread over three faces.
“Right, Steve,” he said. “The script says Cassidy is clumsy.” He turned to Clancy. “When you rush in, instead of me staying up, we both go down. You stumble when you’re trying to get up, and knock me back down again...”
There was a moment of silence, then all three broke into roars of laughter and shook hands.
Six months later, the three left the stage. It was opening night. The crowd had roared with laughter. There had been three standing ovations, and three encores. It had turned into the funniest musical comedy in a decade.
As they walked to the Star’s dressing rooms, Steve said “Tom, your idea to add music and dancing really put the show over the top! Great job, guys.”
“Yup,” Clancy said, grinning. “Most fun I’ve had on the job in years. Hmmm .. Wonder what Mrs. L thought?” They looked at each other, shuddered, and broke up again.
“Well, never mind,” Steve said. “We won’t have to face her. And ‘Ed’s Dead at Morgan’s Saloon’ is a smash hit, and we’re all winners.” They walked on, smiling.