The time had come. The Hollywood brass had come out to the gates of RKO Studios, waiting for head of production George Schaefer. The stage had been all set up in front of the studio, complete with podium and microphones, and posters featuring concept art for three new Darla Dimple pictures. The crowd was filled with various reporters, celebrities, and other interested parties. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby found themselves near the rear of the pack, watching carefully.
"You think the tabby did it?" Bing asked Bob as he watched two security guards push open the gates to the studio.
"I'd like to hope so," Bob replied, looking around, "but right now I don't believe it." He was right, the crowd was nearly devoid of animals. A few were covering the story for animal-centered trade papers. But for the most part, it was a human crowd.
"It was worth a try," Bing sighed. The crowd erupted into cheers as Schaefer exited the studio gates and took the stage. Following him closely skipped Darla Dimple, smiling sweetly and waving for the cameras. Flashbulbs lit the stage brightly, which shocked the third party, Wilbur Dagmouse. He cautiously climbed onto the stage, nervously looking back as Max walked to the left of the stage, blocking any means of escape for the terrified cartoonist.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Schaefer addressed the crowd, "it's a beautiful Hollywood morning, and you're all here to find out what RKO has in store for you in the coming season."
"In short," Darla addressed the crowd, "more of little ol' me!"
More cheers. Bing and Bob exchanged a look of disgust, before turning back to the studio head. Bing noticed several animals had arrived toward the back of the crowd. A few dogs and cats, in coats and jackets, watching the action with interest. Bing poked Bob and pointed his attention toward them.
"Well, looks like Danny might have come through after all," Bob said with a grin.
"RKO is taking over where Mammoth Pictures left off, putting into production not one, not two, but THREE new Darla Dimple pictures!"
The crowd continued to grow. Animals, well dressed and standing upright, began to pour into the crowd. Human celebrities in the crowd began to notice, looking both ways in order to see if they were seeing things. The crowd had more than doubled, and humans had become the minority.
This wasn't lost on Darla, who began having difficulty maintaining her adorable public face. Her eyes darted wildly across the crowd, searching for who could be responsible for all these... animals... interfering with her big moment.
"And not to be outdone, Mr. Dagmouse will be producing the next five of his feature films under RKO distribution!" Schaefer continued, seemingly oblivious to the animal takeover of the crowd.
To Darla's horror, the humans in the crowd were shaking hands with the animals. Conversing with them. Laughing at their jokes. She watched as Bing Crosby and Bob Hope introduced Clark Gable to a grinning orange tabby...
"WHAT?" Darla exclaimed, her eyes wide with anger. She turned to Max, furious, and pointed straight at Danny in the crowd.
"...yes, Ms. Dimple?" Schaefer asked, confused. Her outburst had interrupted his speech, throwing off his train of thought.
"Get these ANIMALS out of here!" she screamed, her fists balling up in rage. Dagmouse looked quickly between the enraged Darla, the confused and distracted Max, and made his decision. He pushed her out of the way and ran into the crowd, sobbing.
"I'm so sorry!" Danny heard Dagmouse cry as he ran past. Max, seeing the cartoonist burst into the crowd, began to stomp toward the mass of humans and animals, sending them all into a frenzy.
"Oh boy, we're going to be blamed for this..." Danny thought in dismay as he watched the pandemonium unfold in front of him. The stage set for the press conference was forced to the ground, in part because human and animal alike were scrambling to get out of the towering Max's way. Max grabbed wildly for Dagmouse, and ended up grabbing hold of Schaefer instead. In his confusion, Max allowed the head of production to fall from his hand, focused instead of finding Dagmouse.
As her streetcar arrived outside of RKO Studios, Sawyer watched the riot unfold with her hands to her mouth. "This is what Danny had planned?" She cautiously approached, hoping to see him in the crowd. She could already see both humans and animals off to the sides of the fray, nursing wounds.
A light fell out of place on the stage, hanging lopsided and casting a spotlight on the riot. Darla walked slowly into the large mass of confused and screaming people, having spotted Danny. He had no time to respond, Darla jumped onto his back and began pulling at his clothes and fur.
"YOU!" she screamed. Danny attempted to shake her from his back, but she clung to him with surprisingly strong arms. He wasn't getting away from her any time soon. She scratched at his arms and neck, and kicked him in the back of the knee, forcing him to the ground.
"Aagh! Please!" Danny cried out, knowing it was in vain. She tried to kill him once, why would she show him mercy now? He took a deep breath just as his face was forced against the pavement and Darla began kicking his stomach. "This couldn't be any further from what I wanted..."
A loud yowl could be heard across the crowd, and suddenly, Danny was free. Slowly, he rose back to his feet, and looked around in confusion. He could see Max, on the other side of the fray, had finally found Dagmouse, who was attempting in terror to escape the giant's hands. A few feet away, he saw Sawyer on top of Darla, slashing at her curls in a fury. Her tail had puffed out to nearly twice it's size, and despite her quick and decisive slashes, her face retained it's cool. She turned Darla around, now nearly bald from her attack, and spat in her face.
Straightening her fur, Sawyer collected herself and turned around to see Danny. Nearly out of breath, she managed to force out "You didn't tell me you were going to start a riot."
"He didn't mean to," Bob Hope cut in before Danny could reply. "Darla saw him in the crowd, Dagmouse made a run for it, and all hell broke loose. You alright there, Danny?" he added as an afterthought. Danny nodded, and then coughed, still weak from the attack. Sawyer wrapped him up in a hug, whispering "You stupid moron," in his ear. He laughed and hugged her back tight, pleasantly surprised by her heroics.
"Everyone, calm down," a booming voice rang out over the crowd. Danny and Sawyer turned, but because of the fallen light, all they could see was the silouette of a man standing at the microphone podium. Slowly, the members of the crowd stopped to see who had addressed them, having an equally hard time making out who it was.
Four police cars arrived, surrounding Max. He looked around in confusion, attempting to locate Darla. When the police exited the vehicles, guns drawn, he reluctantly placed Dagmouse on the ground and surrendered.
"Now, it's clear what happened here," the man began to speak again, only to be interrupted by Darla.
"It was the ANIMALS!" she screamed, pointing to her bald head. Sawyer hissed as she spoke, resting her head on Danny's shoulder.
"No, Miss Dimple, you caused the riot. And you caused the flood at Mammoth Pictures. No one forgot about that. Just because you bullied a cartoonist into following your orders doesn't mean the rest of the world is going to follow suit."
Darla gasped in anger. "MAX!" she called out, turning to where she last remembered seeing her servant. She gasped again, this time in shock, as her giant servant was submitting to what could best be described as 'Lilliputian justice.' The police, in lieu of a vehicle big enough to throw Max into, merely tied him up to the large studio building and left him there until they could figure out what to do with him.
"We've caught on, Miss Dimple. You coerce people and animals into doing your bidding because you have a big, bad Max behind you. But on your own, you have no power."
Darla suddenly found herself in handcuffs. She screamed as the police dragged her away, babbling about 'her birthright' and those 'stupid animals' and eventually, stopped using words at all. She was thrown in the back of a police van and driven off.
Danny approached the stage, hoping to get a better look at the man behind the podium. Suddenly, the light behind the man fell from the stage, cutting the power. Danny smiled as he recognized Orson Welles as the man on the stage.
"Hollywood, the time has come for you to realize animals are here, and they're not taking no for an answer anymore," Welles continued, now with all eyes upon him. "Darla Dimple isn't the standard for success anymore. Those who will do well in this new Hollywood will recognize that. Those who do poorly, will be those who fight it."
Reporters began scribbing notes from what Welles was saying. Schaefer, pulling himself back onto the stage, took the microphone back from Welles and readdressed the crowd.
"It was a sad day for RKO when I agreed to be bullied into signing Darla Dimple and firing the cast of Heart of Darkness. I'd like to formally apologize on behalf of the company, myself... and I'm sure Dagmouse as well. Across the country, we're collecting prints of Kitten Kenny Goes Hollywood and burning them. We hope never to make such a mistake again."
Bob and Bing each took turns shaking Danny's hand. "It didn't exactly go as planned," Bob joked, "but you pulled through." Danny laughed, shaking his head.
"I didn't know that many people to call," Danny admitted. "How did so many people find out about this? It had to have been Wink..." He turned and saw the stout manager of Farly Wink's Animal Agency hugging a dog, his friend from long ago, and felt his heart melt a little.
"Either way, Danny-boy, things will only get better from here!" Bing promised, as the comedy duo walked past the crowd into the studio gates. "Now, where's that script girl you said could get us an in..."
"Huge mess if you ask me..." a voice growled from behind Danny and Sawyer. They turned to see Cranston standing behind them, looking slightly disheveled and clutching his arm.
"You made it!" Danny smiled, his voice worn out from coughing. Sawyer stroked his back gently.
"Yeah. I suppose. Figured you might, heh, need someone to drag you off the stage if you got too crazy..." Cranston trailed off, his hardened exterior breaking down into a giggle. "Did you see Darla without any hair?"
Sawyer beamed proudly and pulled a few strands of golden hair from her claws. "I got a pretty good view."
"This is 'News on the March!', for the week of August 25th, 1939. Coming to you from Mammoth Studios in Hollywood, California! Following a riot at RKO studios, caused by former child star Darla Dimple, the studio made history by signing the first-ever animal clients to the studio. In particular, Orange tabby Danny was contracted to Orson Welles' next major film, currently titled 'Citizen Kane.' Meanwhile, our own Mammoth Studios has signed Sawyer, Danny's sweetheart, to a film and record contract. This is only the beginning, as the animals of Hollywood begin to make their way into the major leagues of the motion picture industry!"
In one particular movie house in Hollywood, Danny found himself receiving a kiss on the cheek from Sawyer, wrapped around his arm and purring gently.
"You did it, Danny. You made it."
Next to him, Pudge had cleaned out an entire popcorn bucket. Turning to see Danny and Sawyer in a romantic embrace, he sighed and carried the bucket out to the lobby. As long as they weren't paying attention to him, he might as well get a refill.
And that's the end of Cats Can't Wait! But not the end of the story, in case you might have had questions about any loose ends ;) Coming soon, the next major chapter to the story, "Homecoming - The Courting of Miss Sawyer." Danny and Sawyer venture back to Kokomo, where Danny intends to ask her to marry him. Of course, when a former flame from Danny's past enters the picture, all bets are off.
Thanks everyone for reading, it's been great to hear your feedback and I hope you keep tuning in for the continuing adventures of Danny and Sawyer!