Both were immensely surprised at the products of their evening. Buddy was impressed to find that they'd actually managed to work on the script (and had done some quality work, too) between lengthy and philosophical chats. Sally was pleased with herself for discovering someone so likeable. What a perfect co-worker. She'd never find another one like him, she was sure. She almost felt bad, knowing she'd need to wear him down for a real date eventually.
At a later hour than she would otherwise prefer, Sally pulled on her gloves and stepped from Buddy's car.
Simultaneously, they thanked each other, apologized, then promptly asked if they'd meet again tomorrow. Sally cleared her throat while Buddy explained that they worked in the same office, so it was pretty likely they'd meet again. He chuckled nervously at the whole situation.
"Same room, Sal."
"Oh." She tossed her hand, accenting the sarcasm, "Silly me."
They met in their office the next day, as anyone could predict. Buddy spread his possessions across the desk Sally left for him, in an attempt to make it look 'messy, like home.' Sally rubbed obsessively at a scratch on the 'D' key of her typewriter, groaning each time she accidentally pressed it onto the page.
"Hey, Sal... all joking aside..." started Buddy, after he grew bored of hearing the keys click.
Sally cut him off: "Joking aside? We haven't even written one yet."
His years of experience in the comedy field let him continue, undeterred: "Thanks for dinner last night. That was a nice change."
"Do ya normally have breakfast?"
He moved to the couch and slumped over what was now his side armrest.
"I wish. That's the one thing Pickles can cook."
"Sorry I made ya miss that. Cooked pickles sound like a pretty good start to the day..."
"No, no. Her name's Pickles." He waited for Sally to look shocked, but had to settle for disgusted, "Not really. But that's what everyone calls her..."
Sally found a clean sheet of paper and fed it carefully to the typewriter.
"I got'cha." She looked purposely away, focusing more on the blank sheet than anyone would ever need to.
"Wow. Thought I complained about her so much last night... her name must'a come up."
"Nah, didn't catch it. Maybe next time."
"So you'd want to go for dinner again?"
"Are you kidding? It's that or I'm gonna fix tuna salad for me 'n' the cat. Again. Third time in a week."
Sally looked quizzically over, which Buddy countered with: "The cat."
A halfhearted laugh surfaced as she typed, instantly inspired.
"That's a good enough idea for me. At least until dinner, when the real work gets done."
"We're pathetic." He remained sitting and watched her type, not even trying to remedy his diagnosis. Which he was perfectly capable of doing. Instead, he pondered Pickles and couldn't even recall how he met her.
Sally, after a quick study of his posture, sensed this:
"How'd you and Pickles get together, anyway?"
"She was a showgirl..."
"What's she now, a show-horse?"
As they now favored, they wagged their fingers toward each other, flashing a sly smile.
"Don't give me ideas." He stopped himself before making things worse. Finally, he did something right. Well, everything seemed right when he was with Sally. Until Pickles was dragged once again into the pit of conversation, "Y'know, Sal, you're really great to talk to."
She turned her feelings over in her mouth awhile before letting them out; "I don't have a joke to add to that..."
"No worries," he picked up her expression and swatted it playfully away, "I can cater jokes for two."
"Oh, boy." Her eyes tipped to the ceiling, offering a toast to whatever jokes may await them, "Guess I've been trying too hard again. Just trying to show I can type up comedy. Not just type."
"Hey. You heard Curly. You're the other half of my writing team. Sounds equal to me."
"Mel Cooley... Curly. As close as I could get."
Neither of them could describe the phenomenon that brought them both to sit on the empty office chair. Buddy on the seat, Sally on the armrest. She stared down at him while he tried to form a response.
"What'd you feel like for dinner, Buddy?"
"Ah, anything's fine."
"You're right. You being there makes all the difference, anyway."
They smiled at each other. Mel crept in through the door, waving a packet of papers and brandishing a queasy frown.
"Am I... interrupting something?"
Sally stood up first, brushing at her skirt. A favorite nervous habit that always seemed to clear the mind of her interrogators. Looked like it worked on Mel, too:
"I stopped by to see how the next sketch is coming along."
"What's that in your hand, then?" Buddy watched as the pages flipped about.
"Oh, the sketch you turned in yesterday. Alan loved it. We've got costumes ordered already, and we put out a casting call for the guest part. It's coming together smoothly."
"Well thanks, Mr. Cooley." Sally collected the compliment and returned to her station by the typewriter, but refused to sit.
"I mean it," he proceeded, watching skeptically as Buddy paced the room, "I couldn't have asked for a better set of writers."
"You didn't ask much." Sally laughed at herself and promptly bit at her fingernails to deter any further comments.
"Well, keep it up with fresh sketches like that one, and I think you've got a good chance at renewing your contracts. Maybe even as a team, next season. Alan would like that."
She leaned over Buddy's shoulder. He inspected the floor. Or his shoes. Or anything that wasn't the living, breathing, beautiful human being that stood beside him.
"A team, told ya." He said this softly, intending only Sally to hear it. Really, he just wanted to assure himself that he believed it. Still unsure.
Mel wouldn't leave. His praise was too specific and sincere to warrant a short visit:
"And that piece near the end, about the couple having the romantic dinner... that was fantastic! Alan said it gave the show a new, identifiable, real quality. He's very excited to perform that one. And of course, the one about the housewife and her, well, detached husband is funny too. The slapstick is a nice change of pace... Honestly, I could go on forever."
"You won't, if you want us to get any work done." Buddy tried not to sound rude, but failed. Mel nodded politely and left, significantly quicker than he'd arrived, huffing as he slammed the door.
"You didn't call him Curly." Sally nudged him, "But that wasn't bad."
"That was just the first show. He hasn't done anything real annoying yet. Except that he exists."
"I'll never understand you," mused Sally, standing on one foot and crossing the other. Buddy noticed the shift in weight and glanced up, "But I like you."
"More than I can say for Curly."