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The Ultimate Cary Grant Pages - www.carygrant.net


FAN FICTION
"Warbride's Screwball Comedy"
Chapters 16 thru 18


Chapters
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

Chapter Sixteen
-- by Jenny "the Nipper" Curtis --

Deck of QE. Cary and Maggie, dressed as “Mary Margaret” are enjoying the sunset.

Cary: I’m sorry you have to endure that get-up darling, it won’t be much longer though, I promise.
(Just then the ship’s photographer appears.)

Photographer: Smile, Mr. Grant. Beautiful! This way, Mary Margaret. You look swell dear. I have a daughter back home about your age. . . (and then muttering to himself) and thanks to this photo, she’ll be getting those braces after all.

(Posing, Cary squeezes Maggie’s cheeks affectionately and kisses her forehead)

Maggie (under her breath): Take it easy, you’re laying it on a bit thick aren’t you?

Cary (through smiling teeth): Sorry, love, just a moment more, then we’ll be alone with the sunset.

(Photographer disappears.)

Cary (sighing and throwing his arm over Maggie’s shoulder): Where were we darling?

Maggie: I dunno, (scratching her at her face in irritation) This make-up itches, these Mary Janes are killing my feet and Susan was just so much better at the schoolgirl schtick.

Cary: (Spinning Maggie around to face him) You’re not having second-thoughts are you darling?

Maggie: Try second, third and fourth thoughts.

Cary: Oh dear. Well, as soon as we get back to our state rooms, I’ll help you off with those freckles. (She smiles, softening. Forgetting himself, he bends towards her nuzzling her painted freckles with his face. Red paint comes off on the tip of his nose. Maggie notices, is about to point it out, when the Captain and his wife, appear around the corner.)

Captain: Mr. Grant, er, excuse me sir. May I present to you, my wife, Martha. When she heard you were coming on board, she simply had to make the crossing.

Martha: Oh it’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Grant (extending her hand) and your niece, of course, as well. I was so touched when I read about her plight in the papers. I thought, that poor child. Motherless. Well don’t you worry sweetie, Auntie Martha’s going to make it all better. (Thrusting an UGLY big cupie doll at Maggie, who jumps back a bit.)

Cupie doll: Mama!

Mama: (to herself) You said it. Captain: Well, I trust that you and your niece will join me at my table for dinner?

Cary: Well, um, actually, Mary Margaret’s a little tired, I thought we might just have a snack brought up to our state room. She hasn’t quite gotten her sea legs yet.

Captain: (referring to paint on Cary’s nose) You look a little red-faced yourself, but I think a bit of sea air will do wonders for your appetite. Curious how the sea affects different people. You get red, many get green, I had a chief Steward once who turned orange...

Martha: Don’t you worry about Mary Margaret, I’ll tuck her in with a nice box of saltines and a soda. That always helps me when I’m seasick.

(Martha grabs Maggie’s arm and drags her off toward their cabin. Cary is left standing, holding the ugly doll, wondering what to do.)

Captain: Martha swears by saltines and bed rest, but I say, stare the beast in the face. Get out for a walk on deck right away. The sea air is the thing. Don’t you agree, Mr. Grant?

Cary: Hmm? Yes, I suppose so.

Captain: Now, you take the case of the Steward, the one who turned orange, he developed a regimen of deep knee bends and deep breathing. . .
(Captains starts walking toward dining room, Cary follows, miserably.)

Cupie doll: Mama!

Cary (to doll): Shut up!

Captain: ...it was the darndest thing you’ve ever seen in your life, up and down puffing in and out like an asthmatic whale. But it turned him pink every time--

Cary: Excuse me, sir. I seem to have wound up with Magg-er-Mary Margaret’s present. She won’t be able to sleep without it I’m sure. Besides I couldn’t bear to think of your wife, stuck there while we live it up at your table. I’ll join you tomorrow, I’m certain of it.

(Cary walks toward his state room quickly, before the Captain can tell him further about seasickness cures.)

(Maggie’s Cabin: Maggie is hiding in the tiny bathroom with her suitcase. She has not brought any Mary Margaret pajamas with her, and is wearing a glamorous, floor length satin nightgown.)

Martha (knocking on bathroom door): are you alright in there, dear?

Maggie: Just a minute I’m brushing my teeth. (to herself) No, this will never do, she’ll suspect in a minute that I’m not Cary’s niece, then both our reputations will be ruined. (She undoes the big pink bow from the back of her dress and sets in on the counter. She pulls on a pair of tennis shorts for bloomers. She pulls out a tiny scissors from her vanity case.) Oh Mr. Grant, you just better be worth all the trouble I’m going through to save your hide!

Martha: (Through the door) Did you say something dear?

Maggie: I was just gargling. (She begins hacking the nightgown to shorten it to a babydoll length. She attaches the bow across the bosom of the nightgown with a safety pin to camouflage herself. She puts on a bathrobe and hopes that Martha won’t notice that she’s big for her age)

Martha: Now that’s a good girl, you get into bed and Aunt Martha will tell you a story.

(Knock on the door.)

Martha: Who is it?

Cary: It’s me, Cary, I need to see Mary Margaret right away.

Martha: Of course, you dear, dear man, come in.

Cary: (Rushing to Maggie’s bedside, stopping to survey her “pajamas” he suppresses a giggle. Maggie shoots him a steely look thinking about the wrecked nightgown) Oh my darling, I forgot to give you your doll.

Cupie Doll: Mama!

Maggie: Thanks. Aunt Martha was going to tell me a story. Did you come for your goodnight kiss, Uncle Cary?

Cary: (Blushing) Well um, not exactly. You see Mary Margaret, Martha is needed right away in the dining room. The Captain asked me to send for her at once. He’s in a bit of an awkward situation. He’s invited to his table three single men, and no women at all to help him make conversation.

Martha: Oh dear, I hope he doesn’t start in on his Navy stories. He’ll have them catatonic by the time the salad arrives.

Cary (to Martha): Yes, you really must go and save him, I’m afraid. The Queen Elizabeth’s reputation depends on it.

Martha (kissing Mary Margaret on the forehead): well goodnight dear. That story will have to wait until another evening I suppose. Sleep tight.

Maggie: Goodnight, Martha.
(Cary, escorts Martha out the door and shuts it in her wake. Maggie slings the Cupie doll at Cary and he ducks just in time.)

Cupie doll: Mama!

Maggie and Cary: Oh Shut Up! (Cary smirks and begins to giggle)

Maggie: What?

Cary: Oh you look so cute. Are those babydoll pajamas?

Maggie: Why this old thing, just a little something I whipped up in the bathroom. What’s left of my very expensive elegant nightgown can be now be used to swab the poopdeck.

Cary (crossing to bathroom, finding the leftover satin rag on the sink basin and holding it up to his face like a veil. He bats his eyes seductively at Maggie until she laughs. He sits on the edge of the bed with one FOOT ON THE FLOOR, thank you very much censors!): Oh my, I’m so sorry my dear. Well, darling after my little surprise, you shouldn’t need to worry about a little thing like a nightgown.

Maggie: What is this surprise? This miraculous cure for all my wardrobe ills?

Cary: Oh-ho it wouldn’t be a surprise then would it? No, you will just have to wait until tomorrow at 4 to find out.

Maggie: Whatever shall I wear?

Cary: Anything but the Mary Margaret get-up. (He dabs at her face, removing her freckles with the satin rag.) Don’t forget, 4 o’clock in the Captains quarters. (He starts to leave.)

Maggie: What about my good-night kiss, Uncle? (Cary leans in for a nice, long kiss)

Cary: What Hedda Hopper wouldn’t give to see that one, eh?

Maggie: Goodnight, and sleep tight, Uncle.

Cary: (slightly excited, nervous whimper) Sleep tight yourself, kid. As for me I’ll put this (holds up rag) under my pillow and won’t sleep a wink knowing your just on the other side of this door. Oh it’s too much, really too much. (He exits, giggling.)

(Next Morning: Cary and Maggie are shown dressing separately in their cabins via Splitscreen ala Stanley Donen in Indiscreet. Cary hops around on one leg trying to put his pants on while Maggie fusses with an ornate flower on the strap of her sundress. Maggie removes the flower and puts it in her handbag. Cary eventually gets his pants on, then moves on to his bow tie. He is nervous as a groom and fumbles, with what should be second nature to him--putting on formal wear. He nervously hums “The Wedding March.” A third panel is added to the screen as Cary and Maggie complete their dressing and we see BROOKSIE putting on her veil over her wedding dress. Maggie’s panel disappears leaving Cary and Brooksie to hum The Wedding March separately, ominously as the disastrous hour of 4 approaches...)

(4 p.m. The Captains Quarters. The Captain and his wife are on hand, dressed to the teeth and waiting. There’s a knock at the door.)

Captain: Well, well, that must me the groom.

Martha: Oh, I’m soo excited. Imagine, a celebrity like Cary Grant getting married in our State Room. Wait till I tell my bridge club.

Captain: Easy, Martha. Try to get a grip dear. (He opens door)

(Cary’s is standing holding an enormous bouquet of flowers that obscures his entire upper body and face)

Captain: I trust that’s you Mister Grant, behind the foliage.

Cary: Yep, I’m really coming up in the world. Next I’ll be delivering my own groceries and dry cleaning.

Martha: Let me help you with those, my dear man. These are simply lovely, Mr. Grant. They look familiar, I could have sworn I’ve seen them somewhere before.

Cary: The best I could do at sea I’m afraid.

Martha: Weren’t these at the end of the buffet table last night?

Cary: The very same. I spoke with the chief waiter and he said they could do with out them for a few hours. I hope you don’t mind.

Martha: Nonsense, I would have suggested it myself, but you are, as true to your reputation, so thorough when it comes to matters of the heart.

Cary: Well, gosh I...

Captain: Now, I thought, you and the lucky lady would stand over here (pointing to a spot near the window) while Martha would stand here with your niece Mary Catherine.

Cary: Mary Margaret.

Martha: Where is she?

Cary: She’ll be along any minute, with the bride’s party.

Captain: Er, yes, ah Mary Margaret will stand with Mary Martha, I mean Martha and I will stand here, being that I’m doing the “Dearly Beloved” bit.

Cary: Smashing.

Captain: Capitol

Martha: Splendid.

Cary: For a second there I thought I was in a Noel Coward play. (A knock at the door.)

Captain: That must be the bride.

Martha: I think I will faint.

Cary: I think I’ll join you. Save a piece of floor for me, Martha darling.

(Brooksie enters wearing an elaborate wedding dress. The others can’t tell who she is because of the veil.)

Cary: What a gal! Always prepared. How’d you cop on to my little surprise? Was it Randy? I’ll kill him. No, I’m too happy to kill. I’ll probably just mess up his hair a little, that’ll get him. Ohh, my you do look lovely, my dear. A dream. An absolute dream this is. (Brooksie curtsies silently)

Martha: Oh (grabbing a tissue, beginning to sob noisily.)

Captain: Dearly beloved--

Martha: Wait! Mary Margaret’s not here yet.

Cary: It’s all right Martha. I’ll explain later, dear. Proceed with the vows Captain (winking at Brooksie, thinking that she’s Maggie.)

Captain: Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in front of my wife. I mean these good people for the wedding of Cary Grant and Brooksie Parker. (Maggie enters, unnoticed by the others.)

Cary: What!!?

Maggie: What??!!

Cary: (spinning around when he hears Maggie’s voice) Maggie!

Martha: Mary Margaret!??

Cary: Well if you’re there, then who’s there? (pointing to bride) Oh. No. Waitasecond. I think I just figured it out. (Crosses over to Brooksie and lifts up the veil) I should have known. This was going too well...

Maggie: So this is your surprise. You FINK! You asked me here to be a witness to your wedding. (Bursting into tears)

Cary: There, there, darling. You see it’s all just been a big misunderstanding. I’m not sure how it happened myself, but you see I thought I was marrying you today at 4 o’clock. I didn’t know Brooksie would show up in disguise. Honest, darling. Haven’t I been trying to ditch this . . . this

Brooksie: I knew there was something fishy about your niece. Wait till Hedda hears about this. You’ll be RUINED.

Cary: Brooksie, now don’t go off half-cocked. I can explain if you’ll--

Brooksie: And to think, I had mother’s dress refitted for this day and everything and you were going to marry HER (pointing to Maggie) all along. (Breaks into tears.)

Cary: I can explain, if you’ll just calm down and stop crying.

Martha: Booohoooo! (Burying her face deep in her handkerchief, sobbing)

Captain: Oh what are you crying for Martha? The wedding is clearly off.

Martha: (between sobs) My bridge club will be devastated.

Cary: I’m sure I can explain if everyone will just stop crying. STOP CRYING! (He whistles loudly. There is a pause in the sobbing and then it begins again worse than before. In disgust Cary pulls out his handkerchief and shrugs his shoulders. He begins to cry, too.)

Captain: (crossing to Cary, comforting him by patting him on the back) Chin up my good man. There. There.

Cary: Why can’t I just get married to the right girl. I don’t care where or when or how... only who. Brooksie ought to know by now that I don’t want to marry her. (upon mention of her name Brooksie looks up, sniffs and stops crying) Maggie’s the one for me. Has been ever since the first moment I saw her at the studio. (Upon hearing this Maggie quits crying) It should be obvious to everyone. Brooksie is like Barbara Vance and Maggie is like Lucy Warriner. Maggie is as fresh and as fun as Susan Vance on a summer night, and Brooksie is Miss Swallow.

Brooksie: Who are these Vance sisters, you’re talking about? More girlfriends, I suppose. I’ll scratch their eyes out!

Maggie: And I’m like Ellen Arden and Brooksie is like Bianca, right?

Cary: Er, um I don’t quite follow. Those first two were from pictures I was in, but I don’t recognize Ellen and Bianca.

Maggie: Oh sorry, just a little something from a screenplay I’m working on. I forgot where I was for a minute.

Cary: (crossing to her, putting his arm firmly on her shoulder) It’s quite alright, dear. The important thing is that you UNDERSTAND what I mean. That everyone should understand that Maggie and I were meant to be together. It’s inevitable. But Brooksie, well, I’m sorry, but I can’t marry you. It just wouldn’t work out.

Brooksie: Well why didn’t you just say so in the first place, you idiot. (Taking her bouquet of flowers and smacking him over the head with it).

Cary: Ow!

Brooksie: That’s nothing compared to the going over Hedda and I will give you Monday in the papers.

Cary: Now, Brooksie hang on. Isn’t there a way we could settle this...discreetly.

Brooksie: Yeah, I could pay someone to dump your body in the reservoir, but that wouldn’t be as much fun as the public pummeling I’m going to give you.

Cary: Money, perhaps?

Brooksie: Forget it.

Cary: A public apology? A printed retraction? A formal declaration at Mann’s Chinese “I was a jerk to Brooksie Parker. I’m a dope and I’m sorry?”

Brooksie: That would be letting you off easy, chump!

Maggie: How about a part?

Cary: Yes, you could have a part in my next picture. I’ll see to it that you get a nice juicy speaking part, one that will showcase all your attributes.

Brooksie: Really, a part. That would be better than nothing. At least I would get some satisfaction out of this fiasco. Well, what is it, then, your next picture?

Cary: Ahhhh, um, I really don’t...

Maggie: A little screwball comedy called, “My Favorite Wife.” I have just the part for you, Bianca. She’s really the femme fatale of the whole thing. It’s perfect.

Brooksie: But it’s not the lead?

Maggie: Well I was thinking Irene Dunne for the lead, I mean really, she was so brilliant in the Awful Truth, you would have to give her dibbs, but I assure you that Bianca is a good role.

Brooksie: Well, I’m not saying “yes” until I’ve had a look at the script, but--

Cary: But you’ll at least consider?

Brooksie: Yes, I’ll consider.

Cary: I knew you’d come around and be a sport eventually.

Brooksie: Don’t push it. (Wacking him over the head with flowers, again. She starts to leave.) Maggie you’ll be hearing from my mother, I mean my agent Monday morning. (She slams the door).

Cary: Yippeee! She’s gone. She’s out of my hair. Hoooray! (Picking Maggie up and spinning her around and kissing her) it’s just you and I from here on out, darling.

Maggie: Well, you’ve got her snowed for a little while. At least till she sees that script.

Cary: But you said it was perfect.

Maggie: I was exaggerating, dear, to make the sale. Now I’ve got to get to work on that screenplay. If Brooksie sees it in the shape its in now, you’ll be in hot water. (She turns to leave.)

Cary: But Maggie! The wedding, the surprise! Where are you going?

Maggie: Of course, I’ll marry you... another day, handsome. Right now, I’ve got a screenplay to finish. To the typewriter! (She exists with a full head of steam. Cary follows haplessly with his hands dug in his pockets).

Martha: Boohoooo!

Captain: NOW, why are you crying, Martha? The bridge club will get over it, dear.

Martha: (between sobs) I’m just confused!


Chapter Seventeen
-- by Debbie Dunlap --

The time is now nearly 7 p.m.:
The corridors are busy with passengers on their way to the dining room. A suspiciously familiar figure lurks just out of view of the doors to Cary & Maggie’s adjoining cabins.

Inside Maggie’s cabin:
Maggie sits cross-legged in the center of her bed. She’s changed into a comfortable pair of olive slacks and her favorite ecru sweater. A bright red headband holds her curly hair from her eyes, hastily chosen for utility and not fashion. Pages of the script of “My Favorite Wife” are scattered about her. She chews on the end of a pen and stares off into space, her brow furrowed.

“How can I make the part of Bianca as appealing to Brooksie as possible?” Maggie ponders for the thousandth time in the past three hours. She picks up a page of script from a pile on her left, shakes her head and replaces it. She picks up another page from a larger pile on her right, “just not believable.” She replaces the page.

The pen tip finds its way to Maggie’s mouth again and she stares unseeing at a seascape on the opposite wall.

A soft tap from the closed, connecting door to Cary’s cabin snaps Maggie from her thoughts. ”Maggie darling?”

”Just a moment, Cary.” Maggie carefully maneuvers herself off of the bed so as not to disturb the script over which she’s labored.

Opening the door, Maggie is greeted by every woman’s image of THE Cary Grant. Elegantly dressed for dinner; hair is parted on the right & slicked to perfection; dimpled chin freshly shaved & smelling deliciously spicy; hands deep in his pockets as he’s waited. But all Maggie sees is the fatigue in his eyes. She reaches up to touch his cheek lovingly and says softly, “You’ve been worrying, too.”

Though Cary is weary, he forges a bright smile for Maggie’s sake; she’s been through so much all because of him. “Ah, but I believe I may have the means of foiling our would-be blackmailer,” he declares.

Maggie moves her hand to gently cover his mouth. “Please, Cary, let’s not talk about that right now. I’ve been working on the script all this time for just that reason. Please stop worrying, I’ll take care of it.”

Cary reaches up and takes Maggie’s hand in his own, kisses her palm and holds her hand to his chest. “Maggie, listen just for a moment.”

Maggie hangs her head and wearily shakes it. “Please, Cary, not now. Please,” she pleads. She looks back up at him, a small smile adorns her tired face.

Cary stares at Maggie. “My Maggie,” his heart whispers. This woman standing before him with tousled hair, bare feet and ink-stained fingertips, heedless of her appearance; indeed, she is heedless of his appearance as well, seeing only the distress of his soul.

Cary pulls her into an embrace, buries his face in Maggie’s soft, fragrant curls and closes his eyes. Maggie wraps her arms around Cary, rests her cheek against his chest, closes her eyes and is comforted by the steady beat of his heart.

After a long moment, Maggie begins to pull away. Cary keeps her within arm’s length, her upper arms held gently in his hands, not willing to let this moment pass.

Maggie looks up at Cary. Maggie’s eyes, mirroring his own fatigue and worry, pierce Cary’s heart. “This woman loves the man beneath the facade of Cary Grant,” it whispers again.

The fatigue in Maggie’s eyes turns to wonder as Cary looks at her and slowly lowers his head to capture her lips. Both close their eyes as the kiss overtakes them.

When they pull away, both are shaking.

Maggie lowers her head, Cary gently tips her face up to look at him. Maggie’s eyes are shiny with unshed tears.

“Why are you crying?” Cary asks gently.

“Beauty does that to me,” and she lowers her eyes again, embarrassed.

Both obviously overwhelmed with emotion, Cary attempts to change the subject. He clears his throat; nonetheless, his voice cracks as he says, “Darling, you’d best dress for dinner, it’s nearly seven.”

“I’m sorry, I just can’t,” Maggie shakes her head.

Cary interrupts, “But, ...”

Maggie raises a hand, “No, I’ve too much to do. I must finish rewriting this script,” she nods toward the disheveled bed, “or you’ll never truly be rid of Brooksie.”

Cary interrupts again, “But, Maggie...”

Maggie pulls determinedly from Cary’s embrace and turns toward the bed. Again, careful not to disturb all her hard work, she gingerly crawls back to the center of the bed, and folds her legs beneath her.

She looks up at Cary standing in the doorway and smiles a small, but victorious smile, “She’s licked Cary. Brooksie will be true to her word once she reads this revised script. It’ll be the part she’s always dreamed of. She doesn’t deserve it, but this is the only way to finally be rid of her.”

Cary takes a step into the room, “Maggie, please listen...”

Maggie shakes her head, picks up her pen and a page of the script. “This is the only way, and I can’t rest till it’s finished. Give the captain and his wife my best. Oh, and please apologize to them for me. What a terrible scene this afternoon.”

“Very well, dear” Cary walks over to the bed, leans down and kisses Maggie’s forehead. Lingering but a moment to inhale one last scent of her hair, he turns and silently closes the adjoining door.

In the hallway:
Familiar eyes watch Cary exit his cabin and head toward the dining room.

Inside Maggie’s cabin:
Maggie again sits amidst the papers, chewing on the end of her pen, but this time the far away look in her eye has nothing to do with contemplating the script. Her feelings for Cary Grant weigh heavy upon her heart. A myriad of emotions play across her face.

This whole relationship has been a whirlwind. Most of it a storm of activity aimed at eliminating his former flame.

Gracious! His foiled attempt at marriage was meant for her! They’d only known each other for a few weeks. Known each other well for even less time!

Maggie chuckles and says aloud, “He doesn’t even know that my name really IS Mary Margaret!”

Insight into Brooksie’s expectations suddenly rush into Maggie’s mind. If Cary had moved this fast with Brooksie, no wonder Brooksie feels so betrayed. A beginning of compassion flares to life.

The crease of a frown creeps upon Maggie’s forehead as an unsettling thought enters her mind. What if I’m not there to ‘rescue’ him the next time? What if some other more beautiful woman is? What if the next time he sees a fetching woman, I become just another Brooksie in Cary’s eyes?

“No!” she cries aloud, startling herself with her own voice.

A sharp knock at the cabin door further startles Maggie, causing her to fling her pen across the cabin. She frowns at the door, looks in the direction the pen flew and tersely demands, “Who is it?” Again, she delicately extricates herself from the scattered script, and pads across the floor in bare feet to search for her pen.

“It’s Brooke. May I come in?” Not waiting for an invitation to enter, Brooksie opens the door before the last word escapes her mouth. She’s greeted with the sight of Maggie sprawled out on her stomach, struggling to retrieve her pen from beneath the bureau. Brooke looks about the cabin and takes in the rumpled, paper-strewn bed, the closet doors ajar and a pair of shoes flung haphazardly; one near her own feet, another near the bathroom door. Brooksie sniffs in disgust.

Maggie retrieves her pen and is beginning to rise from her most unladylike position when she realizes that she’s not alone. In a half-crouch, she looks over her shoulder.

“Oh! Brooksie! I didn’t hear you come in!” Maggie rises to her feet as gracefully as possible and whirls about to face Brooksie. She holds up the pen in silent, “this is what I was looking for.”

Brooksie begins a contemptuous appraisal of Maggie, beginning with the red headband and ending with the bare feet. She takes special notice of the dust bunny clinging to a strand of Maggie’s hair.

“Unbelievable,” she silently curses. Aloud she venomously spews, “I’m here to warn you, ‘ Mary Margaret!’ I am not to be trifled with. The only way I will keep silent about your little masquerade is if this part is good. And I mean very good. If this script is a phony, so help me, Mr. Cary Grant’s name will be at the top of Hollywood’s blacklist, and your reputation will be in shreds. I’ll expect a copy of the script delivered by 7:00 p.m. the day after you dock. Do we understand each other? Good!”

Without waiting for a response, Brooksie turns smartly on her heel and slams the door.

Maggie stands stunned, mouth agape. Then her jaw clamps shut and steel enters her eyes. “And to think I was actually feeling sorry for you! Oh, it’ll be a very good part; one you’ll have no trouble playing. As a matter of fact, it’ll be typecasting!” seethes Maggie between clenched teeth.

Her relationship with Cary wiped from her mind and with renewed resolve for the script, Maggie scrambles back upon the bed. She picks up one, two, three, a handful of sheets of the script. She gives a cursory glance at them and tosses them to the floor in disgust.

“Oh! No! There will be no sympathy for Bianca! Brooksie will play the conceited, conniving witch she truly is!” Maggie leans over a fresh page and begins to attack it with her pen.

The dust bunny detaches itself from Maggie’s hair and floats down to land upon the bed. Unnoticed.

In the dining room, Cary, the captain and Martha are dining alone at a discreet table. Cary is speaking to a stunned audience of two. Martha’s mouth forms a perfect “O” and the captain just continually shakes his head in disbelief.

Cary splays out his hands, palms upward, “And that is the whole sordid story. You were, unfortunately, witnesses to the latest unpleasantness.”

Martha attempts to recover her ability to speak as Cary reaches to take a sip of his wine. “People just don’t act that way, Mr. Grant. It just isn’t civilized!”

The captain covers his wife’s hand comfortingly, “My dear, those Hollywood types aren’t civilized.”

Cary arches an eyebrow.

“I apologize, Mr. Grant, but you know what I mean, surely. The search for power and fame turns many a head toward any means necessary for that all-important climb to the top.”

Cary nods his head, “Yes, Captain, unfortunately I must agree with you. And Brooksie is the epitome of that unpleasant beast.”

He leans toward the two kind-hearted souls, “I have an enormous favor to ask of you two.”

Martha nods her head, “Oh, yes, anything.”

The captain is a bit more circumspect, “What is it you have in mind, son?”

Cary begins, “You two are the only two on board who know the truth about Mary Margaret...errr...Maggie. If you will agree to continue the masquerade, I believe that I can foil all of Brooksie’s attempts at blackmail.

“You see, Maggie thinks that once Brooksie gets a good part in one of my movies, that’ll be the end of our troubles. But like you Captain, I’ve seen the sordid side of Hollywood, and I know that Brooksie will continue to blackmail me for bigger and better parts. Who knows where she’d stop?”

The captain nods his head in agreement and understanding. “You’re going eliminate her evidence?”

“Precisely, my good man!” Cary sits up straighter in his chair. “I’ve always kept my personal life very, very quiet. As such, it’s nearly impossible to discover my relatives. Many, including that vile Hedda Hopper, think they know everything about me, but there is literally no way she can. So, I’ll invent a cousin with several children who wishes to adopt Mary Margaret. I’ll, naturally, see the benefits of Mary Margaret growing up with other children and agree to let them adopt her. When we dock in St. Thomas, I’ll depart and you’ll take Mary Margaret with you to meet my cousin in England.”

Cary leans back in his chair, “Which leaves Brooksie with no witnesses to her revelation, but you two.”

Again the captain nods his head, “I agree to the arrangement.” He thrusts forth his hand to shake.

Martha shakes her head in confusion, “Would someone please tell me what is going on?!”

“Dear, we are going to take Mr. Grant’s niece Mary Margaret to meet her cousin in England. If anyone asks, we will have seen her safely into his hands. We’ve never met, nor have any knowledge of anyone named Maggie.”

“Oh....” whispers Martha.

“One further favor, Captain?” Cary asks.

The captain lifts his eyebrow.

“Could you disguise Maggie as one of your workers and help me to get her off the ship in St. Thomas unnoticed?” Cary knows he’s overstepped the boundaries asking for this last favor, but he’s nearly desperate to end this debacle with Brooksie. The thought of Maggie having to criss-cross the ocean to avoid being seen seems a bit extreme, not to mention time-consuming.

The captain stands, again thrusts forth his strong hand. Cary rises and eagerly shakes the captain’s hand, “Thank you, sir!”

The corridor before Cary and Maggie’s cabins:
Once again certain of his future with Maggie, Cary stops at Maggie’s door. He lifts his hand to knock, looks up and down the corridor, stuffs his hand into his pocket, walks down to his door and lets himself in.

Cary lightly taps on the connecting door . There is no answer.

Maggie sits in a darkened room. All evidence of her battle with the script has been cleared away. She’s been battling with her emotions again. Maggie stares at the door.

Cary tries the door. It is locked. “Hmmm?”

Suddenly, a slip of paper beneath the toe of his shoe captures his attention. He picks it up and reads.

My dear Cary,
Things are moving much too rapidly for me.
I think we need to slow down a bit.
I’ll talk to you about it in the morning.
Fondly,
Mary Margaret

Through the closed doors Cary quietly appeals, “Oh, Maggie.”

He presses his forehead against the cool wood. “Please don’t be afraid.”

Maggie wraps her arms about herself and begins to weep.

Memories of the kiss shared on this very spot stir emotions in his heart he knows have never been stirred before. His voice is choked with emotion. “Aw, Maggie, don’t you know? Can’t you understand? No one has ever touched my life the way that you have. I know it seems fast, but in my life, people come and go so quickly. I was afraid that if I didn’t grab you, you’d be gone.”

Maggie sits in the chair, her knees drawn up to her chest. Tears stream down her cheeks.

“I can’t lose you, Maggie!”

Cary stands at the door, his forehead pressed against the door, the palm of his left hand flat against the door, his right arm hangs limply at his side, the letter clutched in his hand. There is no reply.

He whispers, “I love you, Maggie,” and turns toward his own bed.

He tosses his coat across the back of the only chair in the room, loosens his tie and reclines upon the bed. He reaches up to turn out the light. This day has ended much differently than he’d planned.

Alone with his thoughts in the dark, Cary hears the “click” of the lock being turned on the connecting door.


Chapter Eighteen
-- by Chris Leidig --

Maggie hears Cary walking around his room, and she grabs the knob to the door separating their rooms.

Maggie: No, I can't do this. I wouldn't be able to control myself. Oh, Cary darling. You don't know how you make me feel.

Maggie takes her hand and she places it upon the door and she imagines that it is Cary's face that she is touching. She wants to feel the face of the man that she loves so desperately.

Maggie: I want you so badly. I can't admit that to you! What kind of woman would you take me for? I am no Brooksie. I don't want to ruin this. I don't want to lose you. Oh, Cary! You have me so flustered that I'm talking to myself. My whole body aches.

Maggie grabs the knob, but she can not make herself do it.

Maggie: I'm so afraid. I know I'll just get scared and resort to jokes. I know it. I want this night to be so special.

As Maggie is thinking, she turns the doorknob and opens the door.

......

Margaret comes through Cary's door and into his stateroom.

CG: Hello there.

Margaret: Room check.

CG: Excuse me?

Margaret: You're room is nice. I can sleep soundly now.

Margaret turns to go back into her room, but Cary calls after her.

Margaret: Don't read anything into this Cary. I'm a good girl.

CG: How unfortunate.

Margaret: You're impossible.

CG: Not for you dear.

Margaret: I'm going.

CG: Really?

Margaret: Yes, really. I'm not influenced by your charm or your wonderful brown eyes or...oh, leave me be!

CG: Is that an order?

Margaret: If you value my sanity, you'll let me leave here clothed.

CG: I would never dream of molesting you.

Margaret: What??? Am I so unattractive? So forbidding?

CG: You're lapsing into Katharine Hepburn.

Margaret: I can't believe you're not putting up a fight! How can you just let me leave your room?

CG: I'm a good boy.

Margaret: Oh, I hate you!

Margaret goes into her room and slams the door.

CG: Goodnight darling.

Margaret: Torturer!

Cary Grant falls back on to his pillow and begins to laugh uncontrollably.

......

The camera pans in on a woman who is tapping her beautifully manicured fingers on a table. The camera pans up to reveal the beautiful and petulant Brooksie. Brooksie has the look of a woman who can never be friends with another woman because she is so beautiful. She knows that she is ravishing, and she never lets men or their wives forget it.

Randolph Scott: Penny for your thoughts.

Brooksie: A rich man! How quaint. Randolph, how blonde of you to rescue me from my impending depression!

Randolph: Is this about Cary?

Brooksie: No, I'm depressed because I can't figure out how a thermos can keep liquids both hot and cold.

Randolph: There's no reason to bite me!

Brooksie: Oh, there's a thought to stave off the depression. Is that an offer or just a defense?

Randolph: It's a...Oh, I don't know. I'm not adept at this clever repartee. Cary's much better.

Brooke: Say three Hail Marys before mentioning that devil's name to me!

Randolph: You're not even Catholic.

Brooksie: Don't be a ghoul! Cary has been a perfect beast to me! I'm fretting. You know what that means? Wrinkles! I'm too young and beautiful to have wrinkles. Oh, men are such horrific animals. I'm a devastatingly beautiful woman. Beautiful women should always be happy. Happiness supplies them with smooth, supple skin. Look at me Randolph! Why should I be worrying about some little script troll with a face like a mud fence?

Man: Fences are nothing to scoff at.

Brooksie: Loonies on the loose alert! I'm not buying anything you're selling.

Man: I'm sorry to intrude. My name is Berris Adams.

Randolph: Berris Adams of the Philadelphia Adams Family?

Brooke: Oh, not another Philadelphia Story. Nice to meet you Mr. Adams. If you'll excuse me, I have an almost husband to murder.

As Brooke starts to go, Mr. Adams grabs her arm.

Brooke: Contact sports are outlawed on this boat Mr. Adams. Remove your hands.

Berris: I saw your picture in the paper and I wondered what you looked like.

Brooke: What does that mean?

Randolph shrugs his shoulders.

Randolph: Clever repartee again. I need a translator.

Berris: I heard it in a movie. I thought it might impress you to invoke Irene Dunne.

Brooke: The way to a woman's heart is definitely not Irene Dunne.

Two waiters rush past Randolph, Brooksie, and the fence man named Berris.

Waiter: Ridiculous that we have to spend this time on a gelatin mold!

Waiter 2: It's lime on top of it! All this money to make a life-size gelatin mold.

Brooke: I believe that's called a break in the action.

Berris: Excuse me?

Randolph: Don't bother. Only Cary Grant understands clever repartee. It must be a DNA thing.

Berris: DNA?

Randolph: Do not 'ave!

Brooksie laughs.

Man: I'm lost.

Brooke: That would explain your look. I have a cabin. I intend to use it.

Brooksie runs off.

Berris: What a woman!

Randolph: Yes, we've been thinking the same thing! Berris: Is she married?

Randolph: Not if she can help it.

Berris: Pardon me?

Randolph: Go on with your story.

Berris: I wasn't telling a story!

Randolph: Weren't you? I would have sworn you were telling a story. Fancy my mistaking that!

.....

Brooksie:I'd scratch your eyes out if I weren't afraid of chipping a nail.

Cary: I can explain.

Brooksie: I'm sure you can. If you'll excuse me, I'm on a quest to find the perfect blunt instrument.

Cary: Brooksie darling, violence is not the answer.

Brooksie turns to Cary and she raises her hand and brushes a wisp of his hair away from his eyes.

Brooksie:You have hurt me Cary.

Margaret comes out in to the corridor and she spots Brooksie's hand upon

Cary's face and she runs back into her cabin.

Brooksie: Beautiful women deserve compassion.

Cary: I....I...

Brooksie: Are you Jimmy Stewart now? What do you have to say?

Brooksie removes her hand, and she wipes the tear from her face. She looks at Cary, and she realizes that she will never love anyone the way she loves this brown-eyed dream standing before her. She wishes that she could be the kind of woman that he could love--that selfless woman that can only be seen in movies about poor, noble people. She was too shallow and she knew it. She knew that her greatest fault was that beneath that shallow exterior was an even shallower interior.

Brooksie: It's over Cary. If you want that script monster, I won't stand in your way. I deserve happiness. It's good for the pores.

Cary: Do you forgive me?

Brooksie: Of course I do. Who can stay mad at Cary Grant?

Cary: What are your plans?

Brooksie: I hear William Powell is available. If only he weren't such a cheapskate!

Brooksie walks away.

Cary: How do you fancy that!

Randolph: Tough break man! Should I call for a therapist?

Cary: Randolph! Where did you come from?

Randolph: A rather boring man who sells fences. He gives white picket a bad name.

Cary: I'm free to marry my angel. Margaret and I will be the Hollywood couple to set the standards. We'll be the model for Hollywood couples for years to come! We'll be like Gable and Lombard.

Randolph: Broken up.

Cary: Jean Harlow and Paul Bern.

Randolph: Dead.

Cary: Nick and Nora Charles.

Randolph: Fictional, but at least married. These tuxedos are harming your brain.

Cary: Let's go tell my angel the good news.

Cary and Randolph walk to Margaret's cabin. The door is ajar, and Cary and Randolph walk in. Cary calls out for his angel, but she does not answer. That blonde, strapping Randolph spots a note on the floor. Being a clever chap, he bends down and hands it to Cary. Cary reads the note. Because the author is compassionate, she has transcribed the contents of the note for her readers: "Darling, meet me in the dining room at nine o'clock. Important news!"

.........

Margaret paces back and forth upon the top deck of the boat.

Woman: Worried?

Margaret: Oh, it's only you.

Woman: Should I be insulted?

Margaret: He's here.

Woman: Have you seen him?

Margaret: He called my state room.

Woman: You can't see him. It would ruin everything.

Margaret: Irene, what am I going to do?

Irene: I'm an actress darling. Write my lines and I'll say them with conviction.

Margaret: I thought he was out of my life for good. What will I tell my Cary?

Irene: Tell him the truth. You don't want him to catch you in a lie because there's nothing more illogical than the truth.

Margaret: This is not the movies, Irene! This is real life. You actors!

Irene: I remember a similar situation. A woman named Margaret Garnett. Impossible situation. She was supporting her ungrateful relatives when she met the most obnoxious man who looked suspiciously like that appalling Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

Margaret: Irene! It was Joy of Living! You really must concentrate. This is not a movie! This is my life! What am I going to do about Berris?

....

Cary: You're looking well.

Brooksie: I'm not collapsing in tears if that's what you're hoping.

Cary: No hard feelings?

Brooksie: Is there still a part in My Favorite Wife?

Cary: Of course. I would not want to hurt your nonexistent career.

Brooksie: Thanks for the gallantry.

Cary: I'm Cary Grant. I do what I can. I like to spread a little sunshine wherever..

Brooksie: You go, yes I know. OOH, Watch out! Here comes my mother.

Cary: I'll see what's keeping Randolph!

Cary runs out.

Mrs. Parker: That man is always rushing off!

Brooke: Diuretics. Mrs. Parker: I have a feeling tonight is going to look up for all of us.

Brooke: Why do you say that?

Cary and Randolph enter into the dining room, and take a table on the opposite side of the room from Brooksie and her hag of a mother. Cary looks around for Margaret, but she is nowhere to be seen. Mr. Adams walks in to the dining room, sees Brooksie, and heads for her table. Berris and Brooksie engage in some banter which the author chooses to withhold. After the off page chitchat, he sits down. Margaret is still persona non grata or one such Latin phrase. As everyone prepares to eat their entrees, the band strikes up and plays "In the Mood" which infuriates Brooksie. The two waiters who participated in the break in the action wheel out the huge gelatin mold which is covered with a rather divine cloth. The author asked the ship owner where the cloth was made and she was told that it was frightfully unimportant. .

Bandleader: We now present a gift a Mr. Jerry Nipper. He has kindly donated four cases of jell-o gelatin, and our prize-winning chef has made a superb gelatin mold! Waiters, remove the cloth!

Irene Dunne comes through the doors as the waiters remove the cover from the huge gelatin mold. As they do, Irene Dunne lets out a cream that Beethoven could hear. Cary and Randolph run up to the hysterical Irene.

Cary: Irene, what is it?

Irene can hardly speak, but she has enough strength to raise her left arm and point to the huge, lime, gelatin mold. Cary spots the gelatin mold and he immediately turns white.

Cary: No!

Cary faints.

Irene: What a shame! He is going to scuff those new shoes.

The camera pans in on the huge gelatin mold to show a sight so shocking that it makes Janet Leigh's shower scene in Psycho look like an MGM musical. Inside the infamous lime gelatin mold is the lifeless body of Margaret!


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