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Lo and Behold
A short story by Frederic Raphael











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Re: THE LIFE OF DOLORES HAYES.

The Penthouse Apartment,
30 W 70th St. N.Y., N.Y.

To Augustus Merkin, President/C.O.E., Alpha/Betta/Delta Books Inc.

Extra-Dear Gusset,

I gather, from the panic in his voice, that you asked Floyd to find out how the Dolores Hayes opus was coming along. Before you withdraw your advance or rattle your writ, herewith preface and specimen chapter, plus the early blurb to catch the catalogue. This is going to be a hum-dinger, if you want my totally biassed opinion. My bet is you’ll be making it your stack-’em-hi Big One for the Fall. It has everything, and that’s not all.

Kiss, kiss,

(signed) K-K-Katie.

Draft Blurbette:

LO AND BEHOLD!

by Dolores Hayes (with Katie Kite).

The long-awaited autobiography of one of the most enigmatic, probably best-loved, certainly most loved stars of the modern screen: "Marlene Dietrich without ze knotty vowels and with legs longer and shapelier than any poppola Coppola crapola," once gushed K.T., the witty English critic who seldom gushed twice. Up to now, Dolores Hayes has always been extremely reticent, but award-winning authoress and syndicated columnist Katie Kite has succeeded in turning the key in Lady Lo’s lock. And how!

For the first time, we learn what really happened between Lo and "Uncle Louis" in those tumultuous Hollywoo days when she was under con trick at Metro. We hear how come she plummeted to stardom in Hummingbird, The Musical That Never Was. She comes clean on that mysterious first marriage to Dick Schiller, Alaska’s pet poet who dove in and joined the whales at the false news of Dolores’ death in childbirth. She is refreshingly explicit on her hurricane-farce relationship with Worn Baity which blew itself out (or did it?!) only when she married Nubar "Boom-Boom" Gemujian, the Texan steal magnate and Olympic deckathlete. B.B.’s broken neck, after a trampoline tussle, at the hands – four or six, shall we ever really know? – of the Tarlo triplets left Dolores a widow with a king’s ransom in heirloom throw-rugs alone.

Later, we travel first-class behind the scenes (and into the flies) in swinging and roundabouting London, where Dolores inspired Barry Quint’s quantum leap into designer legend with the See-Through Dress That Never Was! We discover how she co-created Cunnin’, the best-smelling perfume, and where exactly Dolores was when slalom legend Matto Massimo went through one gate too many, too fast at Kloucesters. Oh and mush, mush more!

Lo and Behold! is not for the blissful hypocrite. It is a story of success and failure, of ups and downs, of loves (and truly adorable puppy dogs) lost and found. Above all, we find out that, even if Dolores Hayes still looks like a woman a third her age, her one regret is that too many people called her sweetheart and no one ever yet called her Mom and meant it.

Katie Kite’s In Person Preface

Traditional, see-through ghosts clank chains as they re-enact the deaths of kings. I am a modern ghost who collects sexy stories of the lives of kinks. Other ghosts walk the bloody tower, their heads underneath their arms; Katie is happy to walk off with her subject’s full-face profile, first taped, then typed.

I am not a ghost who hangs around in ruined choirs. I much prefer what Dolores Hayes offered, and abundantly: superb French Riviera hospitality topped with the crème fraîche of total honesty! From the moment when her ornamental gates parted inwards, at the shy whisper of my name, to disclose heavenly bushes, plush gushes of bougainvillea ("Give me purple and red, I told them, and to hell with taste") and a curvaceous vista mounting, oh so sensuously, to a front door guarded with antique Grecian pillars – from the Temple of Venus, s’il vous plaît – I knew that Miss Dolores Hayes was going to be one of this author’s very special people. A villa like Les Roches Roses, if its like there be, with its God-knows-what-it-cost graded Cararra marble terrace overlooking a Mediterranean view which only the most blasé could overlook, provided the idyllic setting for memorable al fresco sessions that combined fascinating work with pure, pure one-on-one pleasure.

The public can always rely on my books to come richly truffled with a fat sliver of photographs. Thanks to its subject’s unrivalled albums, Lo and Behold! will in no way disappoint them. They will not only enjoy the full-color contrast of seeing today’s baldies and biddies when they were yesteryear’s baddies and buddies, but they can also revel in the unpublished – blue-noses will say unpublishable! – stills from the early, earthy, never publicly projected Gee-Gee. Straight-laced equestrians may baulk, but I am with Dolores: we both believe that we owe it to history to leave the frolicking sweethearts unexpurgated. "Let the chippies fall where they lay," as Lo put it. "After all, check out Botticello."

Yes, Dolores has lived an art-loving and sophisticated life, but never fear, all you who lose heart at the sight of a third syllable. If you – like me! – tend to reach for the remote at the hint of a foreign language, calmez-vous! My breakfast serials are always edited to go down digestibly. Gals who live by syndication can be relied on for an unfancy prose style.

Before I slip into the more comfortable third person, I must go public on undying gratitude to my agent, Floyd ("I’m not at my desk right now") Austin. Plus, where would I have been without the literal fountain of information anent the superstar’s Ramsdale schooldays supplied by Marguerite Byron (no relation of the poet, she confesses, nor – alas! – of the quarterback!)?

From her Palm Beach wheelchair, Louise Windmuller (finalist at Flashing Meadow, 1960 – oh that cruel, cruel net-cord at match point, Louise!) found time, and neck-braced courage, to remember Dolores the demon of the courts. She gave me her two-fisted, back-handed view of Dolly Hayes-Robillo’s disqualification at Sydney in 1961, which ended her tennis career in taboo-breaking words and tearful controversy. What really happened later in the Gwen Fairplay Memorial Locker-room Complex? Like the trouper she is, Dolores swears that her racket flew out of her hand because of perspiration on the handle. Would she ever have deliberately fractured Louise’s skull in as many as two places? The overly-publicised occasion, in Major Key, Fla. 81171, when she pushed over an umpire’s chair was – Dolores swears again – completely inadvertent. The way she tells it, she tripped over her opponent’s outstretched ankle as the gals changed ends. It was a pure, pure coincidence that both incidents involved "that prize bitch Louise Windmuller". There are two sides to every net, remember.

Thanks are due to the Humming Bird Animal Orphanage, in Little Zembla, Colo. 71635, whose simply outstanding benefactress Dolores has been (up to 5% of the royalties from her best-loved hits with the group Suck go directly to the Foundation). Irving Flashman, the film critic who has been Philippines-based ever since he skipped bail on that controversial statutory rape charge (C-cupped Belle Ann looked eighteen going on thirty-five and promised she was twice married), took me through every single out-take in the whole of Dolores’ movie career, and assessed her very unique achievement in pithy detail. (Irv reiterated that circuit-Judge G. Rodias’ own personal life had a question mark or two to contend with, stretching back to 1956.) Oleg Sherva, John Shade Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Local Journalism in the University of Red Rock, unzipped his unique collection of press releases and also helped me, with rope and piton, to surmount the pinnacle of the eponymous rock from which, by a macabre coincidence, Dolores’ third husband, two-time studio head Harry "Beat it" Carry, plunged to his tragic death, when – by yet another coincidental twist of fate, of which more anon – he was literally flattened into the macadam by the (eight) wheels of a Get Lucky icecream truck. The usually slow driver – Jehu Johnson, 32 – was rushing the Flavor of the Week (Macadamia Raspberry Sensation, didn’t it have to be?) to a Get Lucky outlet right on campus. My investigation of company records establishes that they were short of sugar cones too, but that need not concern us directly here.

What can I say that he does not deserve to hear about Dr B. Boyd, who has devoted much of his life to clocking Dolores’ life, second by second, with awesome, adulatory accuracy? The man is evidently nuts. I have likewise benefited from reminiscences, short and not so short, of working (and playing!) with Dolores Hayes from fellow-stars Tony Quim, Greg "Quick" Puck, Worn Baity. Diane Kitten, Megan Rye, Sophie Morceau, Mob Bitchum, Jilly "Hank" Collins and Dawn Patrol; I talked, often in spectacular homes where telephones never stopped ringing, to directors Willy "Ernst" Bilder, Manley Dunnin, Ellen Peculiar, Jo-Ann Scheissinger and Clove "Turkey" Dinner. To one and all, I send a big, big thank you; their mistakes are, of course, all mine.

(Start checking on releases, clearances etc., Gusset, OK? – K.K.)

LO AND BEHOLD!

Being the Life and Times of Dolores Hayes, as told to Katie Kite.

CHAPTER 000

Beginning at the beginning is not that easy, because since when does anything start there? At what point did I truly begin to be – or think of myself as – Dolores Hayes? Mom always called me "Lo", unless she called me other things. I was a pretty ordinary little girl, sometimes pretty, more often ornery. Either way, I was being something I wasn’t really: I was always like experimenting, from as far back as I can remember. My life has been a search, lonelier than people sometimes imagine, for an identity that is truly my size (my favorite cooturiers will tell you that I still bridle at a tight sleeve). Does that explain why my closets are full of dresses and things I seldom wear more than once? (No, carissimo Tonino, I am not being snitty about you!) Isn’t an actress someone who feels happier and more comfortable being someone else? My semi-permanent, live-in self is only Dolores Hayes until some writer dreams me up a better part. Pencils out, scribes!

Small town life in Ramsdale, Mass., during WW2, was safe and sweet and, to be honest, painfully painless! The only excitement was when some kid’s dad got wounded or killed in the Pacific or someplace. You had to be nice to them then, even to Phyllis "Crabs" Chatfield, which stretched my patriotism gossamer thin. Then all of a sudden, I got lucky: my dad was killed. I cried and cried and everybody had to console me, so I acted crying some more.

Dad died on the selfsame beach in Italy where Miss Conti and I made Quattro Stagioni (released States-side as Pizza Pie), with Nessie Bedrave and Shag Daley. The place had changed a lot since dad was pancaked by the falling flap of a landing-craft but it was sincerely an experience to work in a dump where pop was a hero.

To go back to my childhood, mom was devastated all one evening by dad’s passing. Dr Noah Backoff, the incredible shrink to whom I owe so much, has a theory that I’ve been looking for a father ever since – someone to live up to and punish for my original dad leaving me without anyone to rebel against. As part of one analytic hour, Dr Backoff once read me this poem with the line "I hate you, daddy" in it. When he wanted my free associational reaction, I hoed and humed.

Right in after mom became a widow she had to rent rooms. That was how come this French professor came to live with us. He called himself Humbert Humbert: "’um-bare ‘um-bare," he instructed me to say if I ever went to Paris and felt like it, which I subsequently have many times, staying in five-star hotels. Almost right away, Le Professeur H. was crazy about my mom; and she was crazy about him. Was I maybe a little bit jealous? Hum was old in places, but he had major looks and he had travelled all over France, Italy and parts of Belgium. I also do rate chest hair, in moderation, on men.

I realise now that Humbert was certainly using me a little bit to make a good impression on mom, but he sure did take a lot of trouble. Candy-bars, bed-time tales, expeditions to isolated beauty spots? All I had to do was sit in his lap and off we went. Thanks to Hum, mom – who seriously might have been a movie star herself, if she had had the brakes – re-discovered herself as a beloved and a loving woman. Hum, as he asked me to call him (instead of, as I tended to, "’daddles"!), was very courtly. Ooh là là, did I get a heap of French from him! En effet and on reflection, I probably owe it to him I homed in on Les Roches Roses. His dad once owned a hotel right along the coat from here, which is where Hum had (or very nearly had) this first love, Annabel, that he could never, never get out of his mind. My mom evidently reminded him of her.

At first, Mom was reluctant to undertake a second marriage, but H.H. said it with flowers. Truth to tell, he said it with just about tout le bazar, and finally she yielded. I used to lean over the bannisters (one cutey-pie, bobby-soxed leg in the air!) to spy on them as he did his Sharle Bo-yeah. What was I? Eleven or twelve years old, but little Miss Flat-Top always imagined that it was her at the receiving end of his Parisian parleyvoo! Was my weaving fantasies that Hum was in love with me maybe the start of my learning curve as an actress? 200-an-hour Dr Backoff hints as much.

H.H. was decidedly patient – positively heroic, in retrospect! – in pandering to my girlish dreams that it was really little Lo he fancied. Dr Backoff, who I still visit sometimes (his professional insurance fortunately covered him for retirement to a sanatorium for terminally deluded witch-doctors in St Paul de Vence), vunce suck-chested that, in my particular case, "hunger preceded appetite". Could that be why I am permanently unsatisfied, even when, as I do, I have everything I could possibly want? That’s my dear friend Princess "Fruity" Boulimia’s take on things. I can’t deny that I have had my fair share of pleasure from unhappiness, but there could still be someone out there that I haven’t had yet and who would possibly give me what I really yearn for. It could always be God. On the other hand, I go along with St Augustine and I won’t pretend I don’t: chastity is great, but don’t rush me.

I heard about saints, and sinners, from one of my sadly deceased friends here on the coat, the fabulous atheistic religious author, Grimm Gryn. In spite of his success, bangers remained his favorite dish right to the end. I am only sorry he never wrote one of his frightening movies for me. You could always rely on him to produce a big part for a woman. Why did he never get that Nobel?

Am I digressing? Gallon Gallon, the pro-life philosopher and rated poker player once told me that life is a digression. Time flies, apparently, but it flies back and forth. I wasn’t going to the mat with him even if we did happen to be in the gymnasium at Ramsdale U.. We had both received honoris causa degrees. (yes, I am entitled to be called Doctor Hayes, but forget house calls!) For reasons only loosely connected with time, I eventually told G.G. to take a running jump, which he did, with incredible agility for an eighty-two-year-old Limey. He vaulted right over the horse and succeeded in remaining rigid on landing. He told me he still felt eighteen years old. Then he died: his pacemaker couldn’t keep up. He fell on top of me and knocked me out, which is how we were discovered, dead and alive respectively (luckily for me), by Dean Redkneck. It looked as though we had been lovers, but – believe you me – rigor mortis is no fun to live with. My life has been undeniably glamorous, yet persistently dogged by tragedy.

My mom was killed in an accident not long after the start of what was, I am sure, her happier marriage. She and Hum tried so, so hard – I could hear them if I pressed my ear to my little bo-beep wall-paper – to give me a brother or sister, but when mom was tragically run over by Franz Franks, a local plutokraut, in his chauffeured limo, all that came to an end with a bump.

I guess I grew up overnight. It is not easy to admit, but for a while I dreamed that re-widowered Hum was really interested in waiting till he could marry me. I had to insist to him that he think of himself, but he did everything he could to keep me feeling that I was his special girl. How shocked he would have been if he’d known what went through my little head sometimes! Sadly but inevitably, however, I began to feel like a butterfly in a gilded cage and I had to spread my wings. I hope I wasn’t ungrateful, but the bard was right, wasn’t he? Youth’s a stuff.

Mom’s death pretty well destroyed Hum’s equilibrium. He missed his Char-Char so much that he drove me all over America looking for a replica. Sweet old guy, he pretended that he was doing it to widen my horizons, which he truly did. I saw and did things with him that regular pre-teens don’t get to do until much, much later in their lives. Eventually, burgeoning womanhood got the better of me. Where the hormones, there moaned I (Worn’s joke)! So Hum and I mutually agreed together I had to make the break. He paid from his own fortune to have me privately educated, but books were never my bag. I was already addicted to fan-zines (as we never called them in those drear dead Eisenhower days). I dreamed twice-nightly of being an extra who had a star or two pinned on her door.

Amateur dramatics was a way in, I thought, and so did Dick Schiller. That was how I came to get pregnant for the first and -as it turned out, to my eternal regret – only time. I was sixteen years old and by no means equipped spiritually for motherhood. That is the reason I decided – rightly or wrongly, I agree – to give Dick his liberty. He had made it all too clear that, although he continued to love me, several times a day, he had married me out of duty. That was why, when I was grieving in the hospital, I sent him that telegram saying that I was dead, like the baby, which was completely true in the baby’s case. I have these narrow hips, which are great for jeans and certain couturiers, notably carissimo Bartolomeo, but less so for motherhood. I never remotely thought that dear Dick would write one more memorable ten line sonnet and then plunge into the nearest fjord. Of course I still blame myself, but at the time I was sure that he had gone cold on me. I found out that Dick had been iced for good when I thought I needed to divorce him before I could marry Harry Carry for the first time.

Right after that, I started waiting table at The Enchaunted Shunters motel, Moses, Mo. 23747, which was built in and around an old railroad depot. The de luxe cabanas consisted of antique pullman cars, but – as Chuck, one of the cleaner cleaners, told me with a chuckle – you could sure pull women in them too. One day, in my red cap and apron, I happened, entirely by chance (or was it, after all?), to get to deliver the speciality Chuff-Chuff breakfast – consisting of juice-of-your-choice, cereal ditto, three eggs over easy, coffee $8.99, plus side order of well done bacon ($1.99) – to guess who: the one and only Clare Quilty, playwright and show-man extraordinaire. Woo woo, we went, on our steam-puffin’ electric trolley, and where would I be today, if I hadn’t? Once upon another time, C.Q. had come in person to Ramsdale to see me perform in The Strange Mushroom, one of his now classic plays. What that man didn’t do for young people! Right there and then in the Chatter-nougat Choo Choo car – clang, clang, clang went the bell! – C.Q. offered me a scholarship in his secluded Film and Dramatic Arts Academy. Thanks to him, I caught up on a lot of things I had been missing.

That led to the very last time I saw old Hum, although I never guessed it would be. He came, with his adorable new wife, Reeta, to see me receive the Open Rose Bowl for my graduation performance as Alice in A Christmas Carroll. As I had feared, without necessarily saying anything, C.Q.’s production was way, way over most people’s heads, including Hum’s, it seems. He went what proved, alas, to be lastingly deranged over what he took, quite unjustifiably, to be the maestro’s liberties with March Hare. When it was all supposedly over, he came back with a water-pistol filled with red ink and tried to correct Mr Q. with it. They took him away in a straight-jacket to somewhere where he was much, much happier. He wrote what he swore was a book about his life and loves in America but which was, I am sorry to say, so totally obscene and untruthful (and – being written with a water-pistol – not always legible) that Judge G. Rodias – encore lui, as they say – ordered it available only to pathologists.* It is a sad thing to have to say, but poor old Hum-Hum could not stand to see me become a woman with a woman’s needs and drives. He wanted me to stay innocent, but what is innocence?


* I have tried with might and mayhem, and even a hint of habeas corpus, to obtain access to the one extant transcription of Dr Humbert Humbert’s so-called "confession", but without any avail It is rumoured that a Japanese scholar has hacked into the archive, but Professor I. Ku answers my E-mail only with suggestions which would take me far from my preferred field.

– K.K.


In spite of the terrible mess which Hum made of the synopsis-library at C.Q. College, I visited him at least one time during his prolonged incarceration in what he described, unjustifiably, as his "death cell" (in fact, he had twenty-four-hour TV available and repro Van Go on the walls until he threw it at the staff). He had pretty well lost it by the time we saw each other. I was already married to Boom-Boom, and had had meliorative surgery, and all he could find to say was, "Where oh where is my little girl?" He missed mom that much.

I sometimes wonder whether all the attention which Hum lavished on me, before he lost his marbles, hasn’t got something to do with my planned adoption of an Italian orphan cabin-boy, who was literally washed up, on the beach below Les Roches Roses, after a yachting mishap from which he was the sole survivor. Umberto Umberto – yes, isn’t it weird how these coincidences can haunt your life? – is the light of my life and I hope that I shall be able to teach him something, if not all, of what H.H. taught me all those years ago. Umberto is certainly a willing pupil and I am going to give him all the love he is ever going to need.


Copyright © Byronic Investments 1996/1998

This story may not be archived or distributed further without the author’s express permission. Please read the license.

This electronic version of Lo and Behold is published by The Richmond Review by arrangement with the author and his agents, Rogers, Coleridge & White/Literary Agency.

All rights enquiries to David Miller <[email protected]>

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