Main > Series > Chapters > Fame Book 1 > Chapter 21
As fast as Coco ran, Leroy still got to Bruno before her. The only difference
was, Leroy didn't know that he was in a race. Coco watched the two of them
at the top of the stairs, hopping impatiently and trying to look as if
he wasn't. Finally Bruno nodded, Leroy clapped him briefly on the shoulder,
and they separated.
Bruno came down to join Coco, and together they headed for the pay phones
in the lobby. Bruno lined up the change, and Coco unfolded a torn-out page
of Variety with the crucial telephone number ringed several times in red.
'It's all there, Bruno,' she said, 'everything you need to know,' and
Bruno, nodded and smiled and tried to calm her down a little.
He was kept on hold for nearly three minutes before he was put through.
Without wasting any time, he got straight into it.
'I'm Miss Hernandez's theatrical representative, and I was wondering
if you had time to see her this afternoon?' He turned in the booth, and
gave Coco a reassuring wink. 'Well, I'm not at all sure whether or not
she'll read. I just assumed you people would want to see her for the part.'
Coco gestured frantically; Bruno was overplaying his hand. Read for
the part? She'd grovel for it if she had to. But Bruno was beginning to
'Of course I'm with the William Morris agency. My name's . . . ' a fractional
hesitation ' . . . Rosselli. Marty Rosselli. The reason you haven't heard
of me is that I just transferred here from L.A., so I'm semi-new to New
He looked at Coco again and started to make an okay sign with finger
and thumb, but it died halfway. 'Hello? Hello?' He shrugged, and put the
receiver back on the cradle with exaggerated delicacy. 'I guess we were
It seemed more likely that the casting director's first assistant know
a snow job when she heard one, but neither of them said it out loud. Coco
was disappointed, but no less determined.
'Bruno,' she said, 'I'm so right for that part, it hurts. I totally
understand the character of Angela. You know I saw Cakewalk six time? I
cried every time Angela had her big scene.'
'What can I say? Life isn't fair. It's their loss.' Looking at Coco,
Bruno was dissuaded from any further attempt to dismiss her feelings. He
said, 'Come on over to my place after school. Leroy just asked me if I'll
help him work on his showcase. The sounds will cheer you up.'
'Well . . . ' Coco managed a smile. 'Only if it's okay with Marty Rosselli
at William Morris. He's my agent.'
Putting a tape together for Leroy offered a good opportunity for Bruno
to use his latest gadget, an attaché case-sized studio setup that
had started its life on an assembly line in Tokyo and found its home in
the Martelli basement. Using the full width of a cassette running at half-speed,
it gave him four channels of mixing with Dolby circuits giving every repeat
run a first-generation sound. Leroy had some pre-recorded music that he
wanted blending into a single sequence with no obvious edits. It was an
ideal challenge for the equipment.
Leroy walked through his steps in a cleared area in the middle of the
basement, counting softly under his breath. Bruno had a rough idea of what
he was going to do - vary the speed of a couple of the tracks to make the
rhythms match, and unite the whole sequence with an extra percussion underscoring
- but it helped to see what Leroy was hoping to achieve.
Leroy, for his part, had welcomed the idea of having Coco along to watch
and give advice. But although Coco was indisputably there, it seemed that
her mind was off taking a walk somewhere else.
'Girl,' Leroy said, 'I get more enthusiasm from my eighty year old grandmother.
And she's been dead for two years.'
'What is it?' Bruno said, as the upstairs door banged back and footsteps
came down towards them. 'Still on the audition?'
'I just can't shake it,' Coco admitted.
'Well,' Leroy said, 'can you at least try? This may just be a project
to you, but it's my semester showcase.'
Bruno's father came backing into the basement, carrying a tray with
a tall pitcher of Kool-Aid and four glasses. 'It sounded very thirsty down
here,' he said.
Bruno went over to help with the tray. 'Good timing, pop,' he said,
no pun intended. 'I think we're taking a break anyway.'
Leroy muttered something dark that nobody was supposed to hear, but
he accepted a glass of soda with thanks and moved apart to think his routine
through while the others sat and chatted.
Angelo said, 'So, how's it going?'
'Ask Coco,' Bruno advised, and Coco looked at the floor with some embarrassment.
'You know,' Bruno went on, 'personally, I don't think Cakewalk is going
to make a very good flick anyway.'
Coco promptly forgot her embarrassment. 'How can you say that? With
Charles McKay directing? He's a genius.'
'Maybe, but when you put a closed-in show like that up on the screen,
Coco almost seemed to take the criticism personally. A group of them
had gone to see the show on a block discount booking, and the next day
Coco had been waiting for three hours when the ticket booth in Times Square
opened for business. She was only fourth in a line that stretched a block
and a half. Not only did she re-book then, but she kept going back every
few weeks as long as the show was running on Broadway. And then there was
Charles McKay; a dancer turned choreographer turned movie director, he'd
trodden a path of success that put him right up there in Coco's gallery
of showbiz heroes along with Herbert Ross and Bob Fosse.
She said, 'I'm sure he knows the problems and he'll do something to
fix them. The important thing is that Cakewalk has got heart.'
'That's just what he said,' Angelo Martelli agreed, nodding.
Bruno felt as if he'd missed out on a piece of the conversation. 'Who?'
Coco couldn't believe it. 'Charles McKay?'
'I gave him a ride the other day. Real nice guy. He said he puts a lot
of stock in what regular people think about his movies. Anyway, I told
him I never saw Cakewalk, so he told me about it. He said it had real heart.'
Coco gaped for a moment, her mind working overtime. Then she said, 'How
Angelo didn't understand.
'How much stock,' Coco persisted, 'does he put in regular people's opinion?
Enough to take your idea about who to cast in the part of Angela?'
'Coco!' Bruno protested. 'He gave the man a ride in his cab. McKay's
not going to cast the second lead in his movie on my pop's say-so.'
'I know that. But all I need is a chance to show what I can do.' She
turned to Angelo. 'All you'd have to do, Mister Martelli, is tell him you
know a very talented young actress who'd be perfect for the part, then
leave the rest to me.'
Angelo squirmed a little, but he had nowhere to back off to. 'I don't
know,' he said, 'I'd feel kind of funny doing something like that. And
besides - chances of me hooking up with him a second time . . . '
Coco suddenly seemed to realise that she was being too pushy. She backed
off, hoping that she'd caught herself in time to prevent any real damage
'Yeah,' she said, crestfallen. 'Yeah, I didn't think about that side
Angelo thought it over for a few moments, and then said, 'You know Edelstein's
Coco thought for a moment. Edelstein's Deli. It was somewhere on West
Fifty-Fourth, close to the Twentieth Century-Fox office annexe. When she'd
been around eleven or twelve years old, Coco had spent some long hot days
in the summer vacations walking around the group of city blocks that housed
the Fox offices and the CBS building in the hopes of being spotted on the
sidewalk and 'discovered'. She'd stood out in plain sight doing her best
to look mysterious and charismatic as she contemplated some inner tragedy,
but nobody had ever rushed across the street with a contract. She had,
however, come away with a knowledge of every coffee shop and deli in a
'Edelstein's Deli,' she said, 'yeah, I know it,' and for a moment Angelo
'Well,' he said, 'when I took McKay to his office, he stopped off there
for a Danish and coffee. Said he does the same thing every morning. If
you just happened to be there, say, around nine in the morning, maybe you
could introduce yourself.'
The wheels were starting to spin again. 'That's a fantastic deal!' Coco
said, and she bounced up and started to collect her stuff. 'Thanks a lot!'
A moment later, she was runnung up the basement stairs.
Angelo sat rocking, as if he couldn't believe it. 'Is she always like
this?' he asked Bruno.
'Always,' Bruno confirmed, and then he set his glass aside and turned,
businesslike, to the tape deck. 'Okay,' he said to Leroy, 'Let's just run
it through and see how it all falls together.'
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