Scene a large self-service cafeteria in Hollywood.
There must be a place to sit somewhere – Cinderella glanced around the crowded room clutching a tray in one hand and her handbag in another. Weaving though the tables she spied a single woman sitting alone with her back to everyone.
‘I think I know that hair’ she thought. As she approached, a large, almost bear-like, man rose to block her way and then hesitated
‘Oh Cinders I didn’t recognise you with the head scarf.’ He moved aside and she slid into the empty seat. The girl opposite raised her head, flicking the golden blond hair out of her eyes.
‘I see you’re up to five now’ said Cinderella pointing at five boiled eggs sitting in a row of eggcups in front of Goldilocks.
‘It’s hard to get it just right.’
‘Are you seeing anyone about it?’
About the OCD darling - you know it’s getting worse. I mean it used to be three bowls of porridge and such like, and now you’re up to five.’
‘Well what’s wrong with five – your prince Charming has five.’
‘No he doesn’t love, you’re confusing him with prince Charles, and anyway I’m sure that’s an urban myth. There’s always daft stories going around about Charles. Having five eggs to be sure of getting one just right is as daft as that story about his valet having to put his toothbrush handle to the right because he’s right handed. Honestly you can’t believe every thing you hear. You really do need to see someone - Hollywood is full of very good shrinks – you should get one.’
‘Don’t go on at me, it’s been a bad day.’
‘The bears giving trouble again?’
‘You don’t know the half of it. It’s all the hangers on as well. A vet and a handler for each bear and they have to have a rest about every half hour. A plain old actress can work all day, but the bears have to have their rest.
‘The little one is the worst – they grow so fast so we have to keep training a new baby bear. It’s ridiculous. They grow almost full size in a year and they only have babies in the spring. Before the end of May they’re too young to learn anything and then before you know they’re too big. By September it’s hopeless, and we have to wait till next year. How can a girl maintain her reputation on four months work a year.’
‘Funny isn’t it’ said Cinderella ‘you always hear about actors resting – I didn’t know bears did it too.’
Goldilocks ignored her.
‘Then there’s the furniture. The chairs have to be made of steel about an inch thick or they collapse when father bear sits on them. I caught my toe on his chair last week and almost lost a foot. The beds are beyond belief – OK it’s a good enough line “this beds too hard” - sounds charming and all that. “This bed is armour plated steel” doesn’t have the same ring but it’s a bloody sight nearer the truth.’
‘Are you going to eat the other eggs?’
‘No, the one at that end is too soft and the others are too hard. If you want one fire away.’
‘I think I’ll have the hard one – it’ll go well with my soup.’
‘I don’t know how you can eat leftovers the way you do – doesn’t anything upset you?’
‘It was my wicked stepmother; I had to learn to put up with anything, I’d have starved otherwise.’
For a second Goldilocks self-centred world was punctured
‘Sorry, I forgot – I didn’t think.’
‘Don’t fret love - it came in handy at the end didn’t it.’
‘Have you ever thought what a coach made out of pumpkin smells like? Especially an old one left in the back of the pantry since Halloween. Chuck in footmen made from mice and rats for horses and I reckon anyone else would have passed out before they got anywhere near the ball.’
Goldilocks smiled and relaxed. ‘You’re a survivor kid, you always were. Anyway it’s nice to see you – I didn’t know you were in town. What do you think of my new body guard?’
‘He looks like a bear.’
Goldilocks almost fell off the chair laughing. ‘He does – you’re right! I can’t get away from them can I? I never realised. His name’s Barry – He’ll have to be Barry the Bear.’ She glanced behind her at the massive bulk , but Barry was scanning the room for possible trouble and didn’t notice.
She turned back to Cinderella. ‘Are you working? Is that why you’re in town?’
‘Doing voice-overs and scripts, there’s not much call for princesses right now.’
‘Is Sleeping Beauty grabbing your trade?’
‘Her – no way - it’s a little known side effect of that stuff the evil fairy gave her – when you wake up, you age twice as fast as before. She’s on her third face-lift already. She lives on potions and make up. She’s on so much botox that the prince daren’t kiss her in case he gets paralysed.’
Goldilocks swept her famous hair off her face and grinned at Cinderella. ‘You do make a gorgeous princess when you put your mind to it. Why do you wear that headscarf all the time – you look like a wicked old hag.’
‘I picked up that look from my stepsisters – it’s a killer isn’t it. I just don’t like being recognised – having to sign all those autographs and stuff. I’d never get any work done.’ She eased the scarf off her head and shook loose her jet-black hair.
Goldilocks watched it settle with an expert eye.
‘You should try some of this stuff I’ve just started marketing. I make more from hair product commercials that anything else these days.’
Cinderella nodded ‘Marketing? Is that what you call it. It’s always been your think hasn’t it – promotion. I always said you should have franchised the porridge.’
‘Oh yeah – and have to share it with the bears – no way. Anyway franchising can be a mugs game. Did you hear about Jack?’
Cinderella shook her head.
‘He ran out of magic beans so got some wheeze going with Genetic Engineering – you know, like GM beans. Trouble is they grew too fast. They had to film at night because they couldn’t get the right shots in one day and by the next day the beanstalk was out of sight – cost a fortune in overtime and lights and what have you.
Next thing you know the whole thing has grown so fast it’s too weak to hold itself up and it all collapses. The giant was crushed under it before they’d even got his castle built – he’s in a wheelchair, and they’ve got to rewrite the whole script – had to bring in more writers.
They’re playing safe now but anyone can tell the new beanstalk is concrete and plastic, and they’re so far over budget that Jack may never work in this town again.’
Cinderella took another egg and finished her soup. ‘That’s why I keep the other side of the camera.’
‘I don’t know why you have to work at all’
‘Oh yeah – fairy princess with prince Charming – happily ever after, and all that.’ Cinderella put her spoon down. ‘Have you any idea what the upkeep on a castle comes to these days. I’m doing some great stuff on those bed commercials – you know, all that princess and the pea stuff. This new memory foam remembers where the pea is and moulds around it, even I can’t tell where it is.’
‘That’s cool did you write the script for it?’
‘Yup, and directed it.’
‘You’re getting to be a regular movie mogul. Have you heard about the mess the golden goose woman got into?’
Cinderella rolled her eyes, grinning mischievously as she eyed the last egg.
‘You’re going to tell me aren’t you?’
Goldilocks leaned closer across the table. ‘It’s the recession, isn’t it. You know all those adverts on the box “send us your old gold and we’ll send you money.” Well the golden egg bit has always been a bit of a hoax anyway – I mean there’s hardly any actual gold in the eggshell, but it was always good for fooling peasants. Trouble is they aren’t so many peasants these days so the old woman thought. “What about sending the eggs to these gold people?” Seemed like a smart idea, so she packs up a bunch of golden goose eggs in these special envelopes the Cash-4-Gold people sent her, and mailed them off. She’s in England, don’t forget, and they have a post strike. Can you imagine what half a dozen broken goose eggs are like after a couple of weeks stuck in the post?’
Cinderella sat holding her face for half a minute not daring to look at Goldilocks and desperately trying to hold down the giggles.
Eventually she said ‘you and me are doing OK really, compared to all these other folk. At least we’re working and out of trouble – I mean look what happened to Red Riding Hood.’
Goldilocks eyes widened. ‘I hadn’t heard, what’s she doing now?’
‘Just about keeping out of jail. Wolves are an endangered species and talking wolves that can imitate your grandmother are almost impossible to find. She has this one on a long-term contract but he’s getting older all the time, and his teeth are falling out. It’s costing her a fortune in dental work to keep poor Wolfie looking the least bit fearsome.
‘Then there’s the woodcutter. He can’t chop down trees because of global warming and there’s no wild wolves left, so he has to hang out with Red as well.
‘To make matters worse the wolf has got used to sleeping in a bed – he’s spent so much time pretending to be Granny, so now he has to sleep in bed at night – won’t go on the floor – has to have it in his contract. You can imagine the sort of thing that happens, they come back to a hotel after a gig and all fall asleep and the next thing you know, room service turn up. I mean it’s a bloody funny ménage-a-trois, Red Riding Hood, a woodcutter and a wolf in bed together, but people do talk. She only got away with it so far because no one knows whether to shop her for bigamy or to the animal rights people.’
Cinderella stopped as a deep-throated chuckle came out of Goldilocks. A few other diners looked around.
‘Keep quiet, people are looking – we’ll be recognised and we’ll have fans mobbing us.’
‘I know, I know. Don’t worry – my bear Barry will keep them away.’
She glanced behind her again. ‘Poor Red - it’s not as though she has Granny any more, the first wolf did for her – I hear that Red has to play both parts just to keep the show on the road.’
Goldilocks swept the eggshells together. ‘You’ve eaten four eggs’ she said.
‘I know, it comes from my starving upbringing,’ said Cinderella. ‘I can’t stop myself from eating free food.’
‘Poor you. What script are you working on?’ She paused ‘you’re always so mysterious, part of managing your image I suppose. Hey you’re not doing that movie that’s working on a closed set down the road – no one knows what it is – is that yours?’
‘No way! You haven’t heard? It’s called Pussy in Boots with the main character called Dick – I ask you – whatever next. Not my thing at all.’