Pat Hobby's Christmas Wish
“Pat Hobby’s Christmas Wish” begins the afternoon of Christmas Eve at the Hollywood movie studio where Hobby works as a screenwriter. An eighteen-year veteran at the studio, Hobby had once worked under contract as a high-paid writer, but he now ekes out a living by accepting whatever meager writing assignments come his way. In addition to Pat Hobby, the story’s characters include his new secretary, Helen Kagle, and studio executive Harry Gooddorf. Another studio employee, Joe Hopper, appears briefly, commiserating with Hobby about the “old days” on the lot.
As the story gets underway, Pat Hobby waits in his office for his new secretary to arrive. (Pat had fired his former secretary two days earlier so that he would not have to buy her a Christmas present.) He resents having to work on Christmas Eve, but he worries that Harry Gooddorf will not renew his four-week writing assignment if he complains. His salary is nothing compared to what he once earned at the studio, but Hobby needs the work; he does not know that Gooddorf will not be keeping him on, in any event. Hobby produces little and what he writes is subsequently rewritten by others. Clearly, his best days are behind him, but Hobby hangs on, looking for any opportunity to salvage his career.
Helen Kagle, the new secretary, arrives in Pat’s office and immediately bursts into tears. Harry Gooddorf, her boss and former lover, had recently let her go after eighteen years. Helen is angry and bitter; Pat tries to cheer her up. She tells Pat she has damaging information about Gooddorf and should have used it when she had the chance. She offers nothing else, and Pat does not ask.
As they settle in to work, Hobby’s dictation of dialog for a western movie scene makes it clear why his work is being rewritten. As they continue, Helen realizes Pat is working for Harry Gooddorf; remembering her comments about Gooddorf, she is alarmed. Pat reassures her; then he asks what information she has about her former boss. “You know where the body is buried?” he asks facetiously. Helen responds, “That’s too true to be funny.” Pat asks if Gooddorf had murdered someone, but Helen will say no more. Sensing an opportunity at hand, Pat immediately invites her to dinner.
The next day, Pat and Helen are back in the office, working on the script. He is still trying to pry the secret from her. He believes Helen’s damaging information about Gooddorf is a valuable asset that could turn his career around. At that moment, Gooddorf walks into the office. He has come to prod Pat to finish the script; he is surprised and uncomfortable to find Helen there as well. When a messenger enters to deliver an envelope to Helen, Gooddorf hurries away. Helen opens the envelope to discover that Gooddorf has given her $10 for Christmas. She is infuriated by his stinginess and lack of regard for her.
Pat seizes his opportunity. He tells Helen that together they can use her information about Gooddorf to secure great jobs for themselves at the studio. Using all his powers of...
(The entire section is 1253 words.)