I’m hanging out more with my pals Joey and Brian and much less with Jimmy. Joey and I are Geminis… two days apart. Brian is over two years older than us and just enlisted in the Marines. He is one big tuff dude and I’m glad to call him a good buddy of mine. You can never have too many big friends, especially big friends that are also older.
Jimmy on the other hand, seems to have caught Maureen’s fancy. His shiny new plastic Driver’s License, to go along with his shiny new VW square-back seems to have created an attraction between the two of them. So, now he’s got a shiny new girlfriend, as well. Doesn’t matter, I’m loaded with regular old friends. Plus, I’ve got this movie studio thing that keeps me awfully busy.
Tonight Joey and I are going into Lot 2 just to hang out and bond, if you will. There is no filming going on. Just us, Bob Coleman and a dark, and hopefully, quiet night. We know Bob is on duty because we see his car parked behind the West Gate, across the street on lot 1, which is closed.
But, we can outfox him any day of the week. Especially tonight… the day after Thanksgiving. He’ll be so loaded up with Turkey he won’t want to run.
It’s still the holiday weekend at the movie studios. They normally take four days off for this holiday. That is, except security. They get paid a premium just to baby sit this lot, both yesterday and today. Easy money… probably on most studio lots. But this lot gets visitors, or “trespassers,” as the studio likes to call them.
We have a bit of a system around which set gets to be our chosen hang out spot on any given day. Sometimes the deciding factor is whatever rerun we have just watched on television. But other times, circumstances concerning safety dictate where our hide out will be. Every day studio life presents unique challenges that we have to work out.
Tonight Joey and I decide to hang out in the courthouse, right in the center of of this backlot. We call it “Beauville,” since that’s what’s on the signs that mark this spot. That was the ficticious town from the recently canceled TV series, Hawkins, which featured Jimmy Stewart.
We run from village to village, doorway to doorway, knowing full well that trigger-happy Bob Coleman is on patrol. This adds electricity to an otherwise dull night. A long distance run around tonight…
This is the view from the roof in daylight, night time is almost pitch black…
We run into the courthouse from behind this old building, keeping ourselves stealthy in the very dark backlot. My favorite show that uses this set is Air Raid Wardens, with Laurel and Hardy and a cute little dog. Most recently, before the Hawkins TV series, James Garner filmed here—his office still has a wall up! That feature is titled “They Only Kill Their Masters.”
Joey and I climb up to the second floor just as we hear… then see… the Bronco. Which is also moving stealthily. No headlights. Just a slow, quiet roll. He thinks he’s being sneaky, but we’re one step ahead. Nonetheless, this is a harbinger of things to come…
Knowing we’re ahead of the game, we don’t think too much of it, until he circles this village, then decides to stop at the front door of this courthouse. What a buzz kill! Why’d ya have to choose this spot?
We quickly kill our doobie. We try to wave away the smoke, when Bob exits his vehicle and walks right through our front door. Not good. The roof is our only alternative. And a rickety old ladder is the only way up. We climb this thing like a couple of spiders, scaling a wall without making a sound. I quickly glance down and see Bob standing just inside the doorway, right below us. He does not know we are here, or so we think.
Lucky for us… we successfully reposition ourselves. And we’ve got to keep from making a sound because Bob is now standing in the exact same spot we just vacated, silently staring out a window. The only sounds we hear are those of MGM’s two owls. They seem disturbed also.
Joey and I lay face to face, on this old decrepid rooftop, lit only by moonlight that reflects off of Joey’s glasses. This face to face moment is a common hiding position for Jimmy and I, but tonight Joey is being battle-tested. We must continue to be as quiet and still as can be. We scarcely breathe. Joey keeps his composure impressively, while we watch Bob’s dark image below us through cracks in the roof.
We’re safe… let’s just wait this out. We mouth our words to each other, adding silent gestures for emphasis. Finally, Bob goes back to his Jeep. We decide that’s about enough fun for the night and make our exit.
We climb out behind Maple Street and cross over to Vet’s park to chill out and reflect on tonight’s adventures. With a sigh of relief, we lay on the Roundabout and light up what’s left of the doobie. Joey begins to move the Roundabout in a slow circle by pushing against the sand with his foot. We congratulate ourselves on our brilliant climb, when we hear a group of older kids approaching from the distance.
They go straight to the Rocket Ship. Ironically, a better rocket exists right across the street in the giant prop storehouse that towers above this park!
We chat and quickly find out that these guys were chased out of MGM just earlier tonight. “Oh… we messed with Bronco Bob tonight… we got him good!” …they say, as Joey and I listen attentively.
They’re eager to share their triumph: “We hid in the commissary, as the Bronco arrived at the main gate, but he didn’t see us… Bob exited the Bronco, and then the lot, pulling the gate shut behind him before locking it… Then he crossed Overland and repeated the same procedure on Lot 1, opening and closing the big gate on that side, as we watched him.”
(This procedure is like the opening credits in Get Smart where all the doors slam shut.)
The one with the Rush concert t-shirt spoke for the group, pointing toward the lot, as he proudly continued to narrate the details of their big escape: “Once he locked the gate on the Lot 1 side, we pissed him off big time! We came out of the commisary and jumped on top of the Bronco while taunting him, Come back!… Come back! We’re over here, you big dummy!” Then they all roared with laughter.
It seems that by the time Bob fumbled through the procedure again, trying to unlock the same gate that he had just locked, these guys were long gone. Poor old Bob… not a good night tonight! He’s probably crying over his pumpkin pie, as we speak.
“You’re lucky he didn’t shoot you,” I respond… “he woulda shot me!” We’re too relaxed to share our story at this moment, so we laugh along with the Rush guys… it’s one big victory for us all.