Desmond Furey is dreaming of Hollywood stardom. It is 1932 and he is living in a boarding house in downtown Los Angeles. He decides he needs to get a job.
Desmond couldn't believe it. Rain had finally come to Los Angeles. He awoke to the pattering of water droplets on the window of the boarding house in downtown Los Angeles where he had moved after being tossed out by Mrs F. The light was different today. Filtered, quiet, soft light. If he had been in his own house, with food in the cupboard, no errands to run, nor friends to meet he would have been content to lay in the bed. The luck of rain, the reassurance and the promise it brought, would have been given its full due.
As it was he knew he had to get up and go out otherwise he would be driven mad. In a town where he knew no one he felt obliged to at least go through the motions of trying to make friends. Plus he was hungry. The raindrops ran down the glass of the window. It was too early for Miss Office Girl. The blinds were closed. The side of the building was there but today seen through lines of rain.
His stomach rumbled.
'Wait a little while longer, Sport,' he said to himself. He lay back on the bed so he could see the office window. He knew there would be no movement for at least another hour. It was still early morning and Desmond knew he must try to get a job today. To hang around for another day, killing time, dreaming of being a movie star, was putting him in a fug. He needed something to get up for each morning, but what?
What did he want to do? He knew very well what he didn't want to do. Under no circumstances did he want an office job. The thought gave him the creeps. Although it may be sensible to get a night job to tide him over and leave the day free for looking for acting work, he also liked having his nights free. He had already begun exploring the delights of the city, which he felt came into its own at night. With the sun banished and night installed, the city took on a smokey silkiness marred only by the stretches between different night spots. He dreamt of owning a motor car. Imagine chewing up the road from the Hollywood Hills to Beverly Hills to Malibu! Driving through the night, dashboard shining, moon sitting bright and full above the shimmering Pacific Ocean, one hand on the steering wheel of his Cadillac, the other around his girl.
He felt paralysed and this paralysis must end. The rain felt like the circuit breaker he needed. The sameness of the days, the lazy breeze blowing off the Pacific, the intoxicating scent of jasmine and frangipani, and the cloudless blue sky, had hypnotised him and today he felt as though he were coming out of a trance.
The realisation that he needed to act energised him sending his heart racing. The adrenalin pumped through his veins. He got on the floor and begun doing pushups. After doing fifty, he sat and did fifty sit ups. Then he lay down on the bed and drifted into sleep.
When he awoke the rain was still falling and the blinds of the office were lifted.
He would wait until the rain eased no matter how long it took. With no umbrella he worried about the effect of rain on his only suit. Perhaps it would disintegrate or dissolve. The panic from earlier had been replaced by a calmness. Yes, when the rain stopped he, Desmond Furey, would go out in the world with the sole purpose of finding a job. Seeing what opportunities availed themselves to him. He thought about Sydney and the back alleys of his youth. There was something odd about Australia that he could never quite put his finger on. Was it because it had started as a prison? He remembered his father standing in their garden, with its view of the harbor, squinting into the distance.
Gardening. Pool cleaning. It came to him on the corner of Sunset and Doheny. All those gardens and pools. Outdoors. He wouldn’t have to do it for long. Just so he could get some cash. And he had to get serious about making contacts. And one again, after all the walking and planning and thinking he found himself outside Warner Bros studio. And, as always, the studio sat there waiting for him. He thought about all the people toiling behind those walls. The films being created. The comedies, the gangster films, the costume dramas. He had made it this far, after almost getting killed in New Guinea, after that little kerfuffle in Penang. What an adventure it has been. They should make a movie of his life.
The footpath and lawns were still damp from the rain. The city had been washed clean by the rain and the haziness replaced by crystal clear brightness.
As he rounded the corner, back onto Sunset, he spotted Ronald Flannery. After greeting each other and having a short conversation Desmond had the address of a former silent film star who was looking for someone to clean the pool and do odd jobs around the house.
Soon he was standing at the front door of a large house set back on a vast green lawn. After introducing himself to the housekeeper he was led through to the back patio where she sat, as though waiting just for him. She turned and smiled.
After a short talk it was decided that Desmond would start the next day and could take up residence in the pool house.
Clinton De Vere