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Volume 5025

P. J. Monahan: Girl from Hollywood - FP same as DJAce edition: Boris Vallejo cover art: January 1976
 by Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
Part 5: Chapters 6 and 7
“Her mind is Tiffany twisted, she got the Mercedes bends
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget.”
– The Eagles, “Hotel California”

Well, we have learned who the “Girl from California” is: a hardened virginal junkie, a strung-out drug dealer, the Heidi Fleiss of the higher-class hypes, giving the appearance of living in sin with Wilson Crumb, at least in the daytime.  In the evening she returns to her private identity, one that we have begun to suspect is associated with Mrs. Burke, whom you may remember had just purchased an old orchard adjacent to the Penningtons and Evans.  The money used to purchase this property was drug money, but, oh well, most drugs were not illegal at the time, so whether or not it was “dirty” money is not all that important.

But that would soon change.  Organized crime, which prospered under Prohibition, would be given a new market once their old market disappeared with the repeal of the 18th Amendment years later.  Most drugs, and all of the ones being sold at Vista del Paso, were subsequently restricted and made illegal to buy or sell by the mid-1930s, thus guaranteeing the Mafia a long and happy existence.

As we will see in this next section, Guy Evans is more involved in criminal conspiracy than we have been led to suspect so far – unless we suspect him of being the bootlegger Allen threatened to expose – and it is interesting to see him wooing Eva Pennington, even though she is not comfortable with anything more than their current relationship, almost exactly like the relationship between Grace Evans and Custer Pennington.

    It was May.  The rainy season was definitely over.  A few April showers had concluded it.  The Ganado hills showed their most brilliant greens.  The March pigs were almost ready to wean.  White-faced calves and black colts and gray colts surveyed this beautiful world through soft, dark eyes, and were filled with the joy of living as they ran beside their gentle mothers.  A stallion neighed from the stable corral, and from the ridge behind Jackknife Canyon the Emperor of Ganado answered him.
    A girl and a man sat in the soft grass beneath the shade of a live oak upon the edge of a low bluff in the pasture where the brood mares grazed with their colts.  Their horses were tied to another tree near by.  The girl held a bunch of yellow violets in her hand, and gazed dreamily down the broad canyon toward the valley.  The man sat a little behind her and gazed at the girl.  For a long time neither spoke.
    “You cannot be persuaded to give it up, Grace?” he asked at last.  She shook her head.
    “I shall never be happy until I had tried it,” she replied.
    “Of course,” he said, “I know how you feel about it.  I feel the same way. I want to get away – away from the deadly stagnation and sameness of this life; but I am going to try to stick it out for father’s sake, and I wish that you loved me enough to stick it out for mine.  I believe that together we could get enough happiness out of life here to make up for what we are denied of real living, such as only a big city can offer.  Then, when father is gone, we could go and live in the city – in any city that we wanted to live in – Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, London, Paris – anywhere.”
    “I know,” she said, and they were silent again for a time.  “You are a good son, Custer,” she said presently.  “I wouldn’t have you any different.  I am not so good a daughter.  Mother does not want me to go.  It is going to make her very unhappy, and yet I am going.  The man who loves me does not want me to go.  It is going to make him very unhappy, and yet I am going.  It seems very selfish; but oh, Custer, I cannot help but feel I am right!  It seems to me that I have a duty to perform, and that this is the only way I can perform it.  Perhaps I am not only silly, but sometimes I feel that I am called by a higher power to give myself for a little time to the world, that the world may be happier and, I hope, a little better.  You know I have always felt that the stage was one of the greatest powers for good in all the world, and now I believe that some day the screen will be an even greater power for good.  It is with the conviction that I may help toward this end that I am so eager to go.  You will be very glad and very happy when I come back, that I did not listen to your arguments.”
    “I hope you are right, Grace,” Custer Pennington said.
On a rustic seat beneath the new leaves of an umbrella tree a girl and a boy sat beside the upper lily pond on the south side of the hill below the ranch house. The girl held a spray of Japanese quince blossoms in her hand, and gazed dreamily at the water splashing lazily over the rocks into the pond.  The boy sat beside her and gazed at the girl.  For a long time neither spoke.
    “Won’t you please say yes?” whispered they boy presently.
    “How perfectly, terribly silly you are!” she replied.
    “I am not silly,” he said.  “I am twenty, and you are almost eighteen.  It’s time that we were marrying and settling down.” “On what?” she demanded.
    “Well, we won’t need much at first.  We can live at home with mother,” he explained, “until I sell a few stories.”
    “How perfectly gorgeristic!” she cried.
    “Don’t make fun of me!  You wouldn’t if you loved me,” he pouted.
    “I do love you silly!  But whatever in the world put the dapper little idea into your head that I wanted to be supported by my mother-in-law?”
    “Aw, come, now, you needn’t get mad at me.  I was only fooling; but wouldn’t it be great, Ev?  We could always be together then, and I could write and you could – could –”
    “Wash dishes,” she suggested.  The light died from his eyes.
    “I’m sorry I’m poor,” he said.  “I didn’t think you cared about that, though.”
    She laid a brown hand gently over his.
    “You know I don’t care,” she said.  “I am a catty old thing.  I’d just love it if we had a little place all our very own just a teeny, weeny bungalow.  I’d help you with your work, and keep hens, and have a little garden with onions and radishes and everything, and we wouldn’t have to buy anything from the grocery store, and a bank account, and one sow; and when we drove into the city people would say, ‘There goes Guy Thackeray Evans, the famous author, but I wonder where his wife got that hat!’”
    “Oh Ev!” he cried laughing.  “You never can be serious more that two seconds can you?”
    “Why should I be?” she inquired.  “And anyway, I was.  It really would be elegantiferous if we had a little place of our own; but my husband has got to be able to support me, Guy.  He’d lose his self-respect if he didn’t; and then, if he lost his, how could I respect him?  You’ve got to have respect on both sides, or you can’t have love and happiness.”
    His face grew stern with determination.
    “I’ll get the money,” he said; but he did not look at her.  “But now that Grace is going away, mother will be all alone if I leave, too.  Couldn’t we live with her for awhile?”
    “Papa and mama have always said that it was the worst thing a young married couple could do,” she replied.  “We could live near her, and see her every day; but I don’t think we should all live together.  Really, though, do you think Grace is going?  It seems just too awful.”
    “I am afraid she is,” he replied sadly.  “Mother is all broken up about it; but she tries not to let Grace know.”
    “I can’t understand it,” said the girl.  “It seems to me a selfish thing to do, and yet Grace has always been so sweet and generous.  No matter how much I wanted to go, I don’t believe I could bring myself to do it, knowing how terribly it would hurt papa.  Just think, Guy – it is the first break, except for the short time we were away at school, since we have been born.  We have all lived here always, it seems, your family and mine, like one big family; but after Grace goes it will be the beginning of the end.  It will never be the same again.”
    There was a note of seriousness and sadness in her voice that sounded not at all like Eva Pennington.  The boy shook his head.
    “It’s too bad,” he said; “but Grace is so sure she is right – so positive that she has a great future before her, and that we shall all be so proud of her – that sometimes I am convinced myself.” The girl rose.
    “Come on!” she said.  “Let’s have a look at the pools – it isn’t a perfect day unless I’ve seen fish in every pool.  Do you remember how we used to watch and watch and watch for the fish in the lower pools, and run as fast as we could to be the first up to the house to tell if we saw them, and how many?”
    They walked on in silence along the winding pathways among the flowerbordered pools, to stop at last beside the lower one.  This had originally been a shallow wading pool for the children when they were small, but it was now given over to water hyacinth and brilliant fantails.
    “There!” said that girl, presently.  “I have seen fish in each pool.”
    “And you can go to bed with a clear conscience tonight,” he laughed.
My, how times have changed.  From 1921 to 1965, the year I graduated from high school, this societal attitude about the proper time to get married was followed almost religiously through the generations – until the 1960's.  Then everything changed.  I mean, how many girls are thinking about getting married in high school nowadays?  Marriage is not even contemplated usually until people are in their late twenties or early thirties in these modern times, and I think that is great myself.

We learn that Guy wants to be a famous writer, but are given no clues to how good he is or what he has written thus far.  Grace’s mind is caught up in pure fantasy and Custer must realize by now that he isn’t going to talk her out of going to Hollywood to try her luck.  What do you think?  Is the bond between Custer and Grace stronger than the one between Guy and Eva? And what about Eva’s “Mary Poppins” vocabulary?  I mean, are these girls old enough to know what is good for them?  After all, they’re only teenagers in love and have much to learn of life. But wait!  What is that that Guy sees in the hills?  Does it have anything to do with his need for money to get married?

    To the west of the lower pool there were no trees to obstruct their view of the hills that rolled down from the mountains to form the western wall of the canyon in which the ranch buildings and cultivated fields lay.  As the two stood there, hand in hand, the boy’s eyes wandered lovingly over the soft, undulating lines of these lower hills, with their parklike beauty of greensward dotted with wild walnut trees.  As he looked he saw, for a brief moment, the figure of a man on horseback passing over the hollow of a saddle before disappearing upon the southern side.
    Small though the distance figure was, and visible but for a moment, the boy recognized the military carriage of the rider.  He glanced quickly at the girl to note if she had seen, but it was evident that she had not. “Well, Ev,” he said, “I guess I’ll be toddling.”
    “So early?” she demanded.
    “You see I’ve got to get busy, if I’m going to get the price of that teeny, weeny bungalow,” he explained.
    A moment later he swung into the saddle, and with a wave of his hand cantered off up the canyon.
    “Now what,” said the girl to herself, “is he going up there for?  He can’t make any money back there in the hills.  He ought to be headed straight for home and his typewriter!”
Wink, wink.  ERB must have felt at times that he was nothing but a writing machine among his wife, Emma, and their kids.  He went through money so fast that the only solution for him was to write more stories, and he often complained that he was out of ideas.  But he always seemed to come up with fresh ones anyway.  And that wise warning about a newly married couple living with parents until they got situated – well, that sounds a lot like the life ERB had in the early days of his marriage to Emma, living with her parents.  Ah, the voice of experience.  I can vouch for this wisdom because of my own experience.  It is fraught with danger.

    Across the rustic bridge, and once behind the sycamores at the lower end of the cow pasture, Guy Evans let his horse out into a rapid gallop.  A few minutes later he overtook a horseman who was moving at a slow walk farther up the canyon.  At the sound of the pounding hoof-beats behind him, the latter turned in his saddle, reined about and stopped.  The boy rode up and drew in his blowing mount beside the other.
    “Hello, Allen!” he said.
    “What’s eatin’ you?” he inquired.
    “I’ve been thinking over that proposition of yours,” explained Evans.
    “Yes, I’ve been thinking maybe I might swing it; but are you sure it’s safe.
    How do I know you won’t double-cross me?”
    “You don’t know,” replied the other.  “All you know is that I got enough on you to send you to San Quentin.  You wouldn’t get nothin’ worse if you handled the rest of it, an’ you stand to clean up between twelve and fifteen thousand bucks on the deal.  You needn’t worry about me double-crossin’ you. What good would it do me?  I ain’t got nothin’ against you, kid.  If you don’t double-cross me I won’t double-cross you; but look out for the cracker-fed dude your sister’s goin’ to hitch to.  If he ever butts in on this I’ll croak him an’ send you to San Quentin, if I swing for it.  Do you get me?” Evans nodded.
    “I’ll go in on it,” he said, “because I need the money; but don’t you bother Custer Pennington – get that straight.  I’d go to San Quentin and I’d swing myself before I’d stand for that.  Another thing, and then we’ll drop that line of chatter – you couldn’t send me to San Quentin or anywhere else.  I bought a few bottles of hootch from you, and there isn’t any judge or jury going to send me to San Quentin for that.”
    “You don’t know what you done,” said Allen, with a grin.  “There’s a thousand cases of bonded whisky hid back there in the hills, an’ you engineered the whole deal at this end.  Maybe you didn’t have nothin’ to do with stealin’ it from a government bonded warehouse in New York; but you must a’ knowed all about it, an’ it was you that hired me and the other three to smuggle it off the ship and into the hills.”
    Evans was staring at the man in wide-eyed incredulity.
    “How do you get that way?” he asked derisively.
    “They’s four of us to swear to it,” said Allen; “an’ how many you got to swear you didn’t do it?”
ERB was a student of true crime and criminal conspiracies.  Conspiracy comes from the Latin word, “to breathe together,” and centers around an agreement and any act in furtherance of said agreement.  It goes against the logic of most crimes in America, for it is an adjunct of European law, in which you don’t have to participate in the crime itself to be an equal party to it. Any act in furtherance once you know of the agreement, regardless of how minor, locks you into the whole conspiracy, especially when coconspirators are willing to testify against you – especially if they’ve been given a good deal by the prosecution.

Allen, a sophisticated criminal in that he understands the laws he is breaking, has just confronted the novice, Guy Evans, with this frightening truth.  You’re locked in, boy, now just accept your fate and stop whining.

We learned earlier, in the Hollywood section, that Allen was instrumental in getting the whiskey off the boat and into the hills.  Now he conveniently shifts those facts into a new scenario directly involving Guy in the early stages of the conspiracy.  He has set a perfect trap.

    “Why it’s a rotten frame-up!” exclaimed Evans.
    “Sure it’s a frame-up,” agreed Allen; “but we won’t use it if you behave yourself properly.”
    Evans looked at the man for a long minute – dislike and contempt unconcealed upon his face.
    “I guess,” he said presently, “that I don’t need any twelve thousand dollars that bad, Allen.  We’ll call this thing off, as far as I am concerned.  I’m through, right now.  Goodbye!”
    He wheeled his horse to ride away.
    “Hold on there, young feller!” said Allen.  “Not so quick!   You may think you’re through, but you’re not.  We need you, and, anyway, you know too damned much for your health.  You’re goin’ through with this.  We got some other junk up there that there’s more profit in than what there is in booze, and it’s easier to handle.  We know where to get rid of it; but the booze we can’t handle as easy as you can, and so you’re goin’ to handle it.”
    “Who says I am?”
    “I do,” returned Allen, with an ugly snarl.  “You’ll handle it, or I’ll do just what I said I’d do, and I’ll do it pronto.  How’d you like your mother and that Pennington girl to hear all I’d have to say?”
Now, I wonder who is handling the drug end of the business?  Would that be Wilson Crumb and his cocaine mistress, Gaza de Lure?  You betcha!  ERB is doing a masterful job of weaving his web of crime and conspiracy.
    The boy sat with scowling, thoughtful brows for a long minute.  From beneath a live oak, on the summit of a low bluff, a man discovered them.  He had been sitting there talking with a girl.  Suddenly he looked up.
    “Why, there’s Guy?” he said.  “Who’s that with – why, it’s that fellow Allen!  What’s he doing up here?”  He rose to his feet.  “You stay here a minute, Grace, I’m going down to see what that fellow wants.  I can’t understand Guy.”
    He untied the Apache and mounted, while below, just beyond the pasture fence, the boy turned suddenly toward Allen.
    “I’ll go through with it this once,” he said.  “You’ll bring it down on burros at night?”
    The other nodded affirmatively.
    “Where do you want it?” he asked.
    “Bring it to the west side of the old hay barn – the one that stands on our west line.  When will you come?”
    “Today’s Tuesday.  We’ll bring the first lot Friday night, about twelve o’clock; and after that every Friday the same time.  You be ready to settle every Friday for what you’ve sold during the week – sabe?”
    “Yes,” replied Evans.  “That’s all, then”; and he turned and rode back toward the rancho.
    Allen was continuing on his way toward the hills when his attention was again attracted by the sound of hoofbeats.  Looking to his left, he saw a horseman approaching from inside the pasture.  He recognized both horse and rider at once, but kept sullenly on his way.
    Pennington rode up to the opposite side of the fence along which ran the trail that Allen followed.
    “What are you doing here, Allen?” he asked in a not unkindly tone.
    “Mindin’ my own business, like you better,” retorted the ex-stableman.
    “You have no business back here on Ganado,” said Pennington.  “You’ll have to get off the property.”
    “The hell I will!” exclaimed Allen.
    At the same time he made a quick movement with his right hand but Pennington made a quicker.
    “That kind of stuff don’t go here, Allen,” said the younger man, covering the other with a forty-five.  “Now turn around and get off the place, and don’t come on it again.  I don’t want any trouble with you.”
    Without a word, Allen reined his horse about and rode down the canyon; but there was murder in his heart.  Pennington watched him until he was out of revolver range, and then turned and rode back to Grace Evans.
So ends Chapter 7, thus setting the stage for our next section, Chapters 8-10, which we will review and analyze in our next installment.

Read The Girl From Hollywood Text in ERBzine
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 by Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
Pt. I: Ch. 1 Pt. II: Ch. 2 Pt. III: Ch. 3/4 Pt. IV: Ch. 5 Pt. V: Ch. 6/7 Pt. VI: Ch. 8/9/10 Pt. VII: Ch. 11/12
Pt. VIII: Ch. 13/14 Pt. IX: Ch. 15 Pt. X: Ch. 16 Pt. XI: Ch. 17/18 Pt. XII: Ch. 19/20 Pt. XIII: Ch. 21 Pt. XIV: Ch. 22/23
Pt. XV: Ch. 24/25 Pt. XVI: Ch. 26/27/28 Pt. XVII: Ch. 29/30/31 Pt. XVIII: Ch. 32/33 Pt. XIX: Ch. 34 Pt. XX: Ch. 35 Pt. XXI: Ch. 36/37


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