Sawyer packed the last of her clothes into her suitcase and closed the lid. She sighed and looked around her room, catching her reflection in the mirror. She pictured herself in an expensive dress, signing autographs and winning awards. She almost shivered with excitement. Her eyes swam out of focus as she elaborated on this fantasy.
Knock, knock, knock!
Sawyer was jerked out of her daydream by the knocking on her bedroom door.
"Come in!" she said.
A blue eyed, orange haired head poked in, and smiled.
"Oh, hi Harley."
Harley walked over to the bed and sat while Sawyer walked around her room, checking to see if she had missed anything.
"So, you're finally going Hollywood, huh?" Harley said. Sawyer smiled.
"Yeah. Oh, I'm so nervous. But I'm so excited too!"
"You don't need to be nervous. You'll make it. You're too good not to."
Sawyer looked to her sister with a look of puzzlement mixed with happiness. She and Harley had never been close, despite their close ages. (Sawyer was twenty-one, Harley eighteen.) Even as little kittens, Sawyer and Harley were different as night and day. While Sawyer enjoyed acting, singing, and dancing, Harley seemed to have no real interest in doing anything besides spending time with friends. Growing up, Sawyer was calmer, and more obedient. Harley was wild and rebellious. Her orange hair and multi-colored tail proved that. And in all of those years, this was the closest thing to a complement Harley had ever given her.
"Thanks, Har." She grinned.
"Ah, it's nothing." She was quiet for a minute. "You know, I never told you this but, um... I've always looked up to you."
She was shocked. "Really?"
"Yeah. I always wanted to be like you, but... then I went and got my hair dyed orange."
Sawyer laughed. "I thought after the first time you'd never want to do it again."
Harley blew her bangs up. "I don't know, I guess it kinda grew on me."
"I'll miss you, Harley."
"You too, Sawyer."
The sisters hugged. In the doorway, their mother blew her nose and smiled.
"Thank God! It took you two eighteen years, but finally, you're getting along."
The bus pulled up. Sawyer picked up her suitcase and hugged her mom and sister.
"Good Luck! Write us!" her mother yelled as the bus departed.
"I promise, Mom!"
She sat down and watched her house and family grow smaller and disappear. A tiny twinge of homesickness already hit her, but it quickly passed as her dreams of stardom took over all her thoughts. The bus ride took a whole day, and finally the bus dropped her off in the midst of Hollywood nightlife. Sawyer looked around in awe.
Glamorous women wearing jewels and furs were escorted by handsome men wearing tuxes and ties. Bright lights were everywhere, and Sawyer even saw a movie star or two. She could have watched the people go by all night, but she still had to get a hotel room and a good night's sleep before morning when she would head over to... what was the name of that place again? She pulled a newspaper clipping out of her pocket. Farley Wink's Animal Acting Agency. That was it! Her ticket to stardom. Anxious for morning now, Sawyer hurried to find a hotel.
The building was squashed between two others. Sawyer took a deep breath and entered. She had to walk up a few flights of stairs before reaching the waiting area. Scant few were there, two squirrels sat on some chairs, one reading a book, the other staring at her hands, and a giraffe was picking up his jacket off of the coat rack and exiting.
Sawyer sat on a bench and waited anxiously. Eventually, a short, chubby man emerged from another door, and was shoving a pair of dogs toward the exit.
"Ok, kids! You'll do great! Just head over to the set and let 'em know you're there for the kennel scene. Bye!"
The dogs were gone. The man looked around, frowning.
"Who's next? I've gotta get a secretary!"
The squirrels didn't move, so Sawyer stood up and offered her hand.
"I think it's me. My name's Sawyer Cat."
The chubby man didn't take her hand, but circled around her instead. Sawyer, confused, turned to face him as he circled.
"Uhhh, you're Farley Wink, I presume?"
"Yep! You know, you'd be puuurfect for this new movie they're shooting."
"Really?" Sawyer's eyes shone.
"Yeah. It's called 'Petshop Princess', and they're dying for a cat just like you!"
Wink took her by the shoulders and led her into his office.
"A few forms, babe, and you can head right over to Mammoth Studios. Soundstage 12."
Sawyer beamed and signed the forms. When she was through, she quickly headed for the door. At the last minute, she turned and thanked Wink.
"I've been looking forward to this for a long time!" she admitted.
"Well, there's no business like show business! And Sawyer, sweetie, baby........you're gonna be great!"
She left the office with high spirits.
When she arrived on the set, everyone was bustling about, making last minute adjustments to set designs or costumes. Sawyer looked around in amazement. Suddenly, a thin bumbling man with a nose a little too big for his face appeared beside her. His name was Flanigan, and he was directing the film.
"Who are you?" he asked her.
"Sawyer Cat. I'm here for--"
"The cat role. Right. Wardrobe and makeup-over there!"
The man shoved her in the direction of the wardrobe department. She was quickly fitted into a frilly pink skirt, purple shirt, and a huge blue bow around her neck. The wardrobe people then pointed her to makeup. On the way she caught a glimpse of herself in the full-length mirror. She thought she looked ridiculous.
'So much for the glamours dress,' she thought. 'Maybe it comes later.'
The makeup people were haste, and simply threw some powder on her. She wondered what kind of role she had.
Behind her, a man called out, "Scripts! Scripts!"
A group of animals surrounded him. Sawyer hurried over.
"Let's see," he said, "Bird, dog, fish, cat."
Sawyer was handed a script. She moved somewhat difficultly through the crowd to read it. It was only then that she noticed it was only one piece of paper.
It read: "MEOW"
Sawyer was profoundly confused. She looked around, anxious to find out what everyone else's script read. She headed over to a trio of animals who looked annoyed and somewhat bored.
"Hi, I'm Sawyer." she held out her hand to a small blue fish who, despite a ridiculous costume, managed to look very sleek and elegant.
"Frances," she said, shaking her hand. "This is Cranston."
She indicated a crotchety looking goat beside her.
"Hello." Sawyer again offered her hand.
The goat shook it quickly and muttered a hello. Sawyer looked down at a small turtle.
"And you are.......?"
The turtle ducked inside his shell, but after a minute, poked up again.
"Uh, I'm T.W." he said in a nervous voice. "Pleased to meet you."
"Likewise. Um, I have a question." Sawyer offered her script. "I only got a one-liner. I thought I'd have at least a chorus role or something. Do you think it's a mistake?"
All three animals looked at her blankly.
"You're new here aren't ya?" Cranston said.
"Well, yes. Why?" Sawyer frowned.
"Darling, around here, this is the best we animals get. If you're lucky, you'll get a few minutes of limelight to enjoy. Sort of." Frances said, with a tired look.
"I don't understand."
Sawyer looked at all of their faces, trying to read in their expressions what they were telling her. In unison, they handed her their scripts.
Frances's read: "BLUB"
Cranston's read: "BLEAT"
T.W.'s read nothing at all.
Sawyer shook her head, trying to take it in.
"You're lucky. At least you got a line," T.W. said, sighing. "Turtle's don't say anything at all."
"But, surely you're capable of more than this, otherwise you wouldn't be here. Don't they see your talent?"
"They don't want to see it, dearie." Frances shook her head. "We were all led into it just the way you were. We were hopeful, Hollywood dreamers."
Cranston joined in. "Then, before we're even started, they hand us our hats. We have nothing they want! As far as they're concerned, we should be churning butter and hatching eggs on some farm somewhere!"
"It's always been this way." T.W. hung his head.
"No, I don't believe it!" Sawyer, not thinking clearly. She was seeing her lifelong dream vanish before her. She ran up to Flanigan, script in hand.
"And make sure the sign is even this time!!!"
"Uh, excuse me?"
"Yes, what is it?" Flanigan looked at her with some impatience.
"I-I think something's wrong with my script, perhaps you could umm, look at it for me?"
Flanigan took her script and read it. He stared at her a moment after reading it, then broke out in a fit of hysterical laughter. Sawyer was mortified. He handed her script back and walked away, still laughing. Sawyer's face reddened. She looked down and saw a blue fin pat her arm. Frances stood next to her, a knowing look on her face. Hot tears burned in Sawyer's eyes, despite her best attempts to repress them. A bell rang.
"Places everybody, places!!!" Flanigan yelled.
Animals scurried to their spots on the stage, in cages and in boxes in a petshop-type setting. Sawyer climbed into a box labeled "Kitty-Cat." The lights brightened.
A little girl with a pink dress, curly blonde hair, blue eyes, and an expression that screamed cuteness entered the fake door to the pet shop, accompanied by an actress portraying what Sawyer assumed was her mother.
The little girl sang:
"Look at all the an-ni-mals, they look so cute today
I bet they're all real gentle, and really love to play!
Oh, Mommy dear, lookie here there's so many to see
I hope that you will let me take one home with me......."
The mother spoke: "Why of course, dear"
The little girl resumed her song:
"I get to have a pet today, any which one I choose,
And with so many cute little an-ni-mals, there's no way I can loose!
I could have a doggie 'cause they go-"
The dog, in it's crate maintained a bland expression while giving it's line: "WOOF!"
"Or a birdie 'cause they go-"
The bird had no more emotion than the dog: "TWEET"
"Or perhaps a sweet little turtle, oh boy is he ever neat!
But I need the kind of pet that will curl up at my feet.
I know! How about a kitty-cat? I love her fur, oh wow!
I've always liked a kitty-cat beca-ause they go--"
Sawyer looked at the overly-cute little girl, the director, and her surroundings. And with a bleak expression, she said the one word that issued her surrender:
Sawyer decided to go back to Farley Wink's office after she was through to ask him a few questions. She was still confused about the day's events and desperately needed answers. She found Wink in his office, ready to close up. The door was open, but Wink didn't see her, so she knocked on the door frame to get his attention.
"Sawyer, sweetie, baby... what are you doin' here?"
"I, um, came to ask you a few questions."
Wink's smile evaporated. He knew what this was about, he'd been through it so many times before. He leaned back in his chair and motioned for Sawyer to sit. She did.
"Listen, kiddo, this town has rules. Around here, dogs bark, cows moo, and chickens cluck, but lions don't act, giraffes don't sing, and cats don't dance. Ok?"
"But that's so unfair! This has been my lifelong dream for as long as I..."
"And it's been others' dream too, but hey, this is just the way things are."
Sawyer got angry at Wink.
"You could have at least told me what kind of role I was getting into, or "The Rules" as you put it. I made a fool out of myself down there!"
"Hey, I just recruit 'em. I don't care if they stay or go, there will always be more."
He took a puff of his cigar he'd been smoking. Sawyer made a small sound of frustration, shook her head, and got up to leave. "Hey, wait a sec," Wink called after her.
She stopped at the door.
"You want my advise? Forget showbiz, kid. It's gonna bring nothin' but broken dreams or stupid jobs that waste your talent. Go get a job, and start yourself a life."
Sawyer considered it for a second. All of her hard work, dreams, hopes, aspirations, all down the drain. She then realized there was nothing left of her dream. She looked at Wink.
"You still looking for a secretary?"
An alarm woke Sawyer out of slumber. She slowly rose out of bed and shut it off. Rubbing her eyes, she went to her bathroom and showered. Working for Wink, she managed to make enough money to by a small, one-bedroom apartment just outside downtown Hollywood. It wasn't much, but enough to meet her needs. She hurriedly ate breakfast and got dressed. In her bedroom, she glanced at the calendar on the wall. Had it been three months already? She sighed.
Her existence had become bleak, dismal, and very boring. She hated her work, but endured it anyway since it was good pay. Over time, she began to see just what a con man Wink was, and hardened herself to make sure she wouldn't be pushed around. She eventually caught on to him, and made sure she was three steps ahead of all of his schemes. Frances noticed Sawyer became much more cynical, but then, so was everyone else. Sawyer became one of them. No longer a dreamer, but a settler. Many times, she considered going home, but a part of her couldn't. After all, this was the place where she could be closest to the thing she loved, even if she couldn't be a part of it. She wrote her mom, telling her about the situation. Her mom sympathized, telling her she could return home anytime she wanted to. That only encouraged her to stay.
Sawyer thought of her mother as she adjusted her hat in the mirror. Going home would mean she had let her down somehow. She couldn't face that.
Sawyer didn't have a car, so she walked downtown everyday until she could get a taxi, or trolley.
There! She saw one! If she hurried she could get it.
She called out, "Taxi!!"
But it took off, somebody else getting it first. She looked around. Ah, a trolley. She boarded and got herself a drink of water. She sat down and noticed something was hitting the roof. She looked up. Suddenly, the trolley jumped, making her spill her water all over her business suit.
"Great. I love the wet look." she thought sarcastically.
She looked out the window to see what was going on, and sparks fell from the wire above. They burnt the feather right of off her hat. She angrily looked at the charred remains. Sawyer decided to get off of this thing before anything else happened to her today. But getting off was no peach either. She almost got hit by a car, then a truck. She hurried over to the sidewalk just outside Wink's office. Glancing warily back at the traffic, she continued on her way, only to nearly run into... a cat? The cat was dancing and singing, and didn't seem to see her.
"What's this maniac doing?" she thought to herself.
The cat danced around her, nearly hitting her. Sawyer was beginning to lose her balance. Dangerously close to a fountain, the other cat through out his arms, knocking her into the water. Peering out from under her soaking hat, she watched angrily as the cat danced to the door of the office and went inside. Sawyer wondered what else this day would bring.
By Shellie Chiavetta
"Danny," "Sawyer," "Cranston," "Frances," "Farley Wink," and "T.W." are © Warner Bros.
"Harley" is © Speck
|This page was last modified on 22nd July 1998|