Little Miss Marker bounces and bounces and bounces and bounces on the hotel bed with her pink Little Miss Marker dress bouncing over her pink tights and her brown hair bouncing floppy as tinsel as she says "can you do this?" and she bounces off the mattress in a semi-split while the public-relations woman from New York explains to somebody on the phone that one of the problems is that two 7-year-old girls are bouncing on the bed in back of her, one of them being Sara Stimson, who plays Little Miss Marker in the movie called "Little Miss Marker" and who now inquires of her new friend "Can you do the bucking bronco?" which proves to be yet another way to bounce on a hotel matress.
Sara's mother, named Dana, walks into the room. She says "Sara, honey." It means nothing. It's an all-purpose apology to whomever might want one. Mrs. Stimson wears a pair of brown leather boots that fit like rumpled silk and definitely didn't come from Helotes, Tex., which Mrs. Stimson does, along with Sara and her brothers, Robby and Breland, and her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Orville Oye.
"We live about a mile from the store," she says, referring to John T. Flore's country store and dance hall. It's a local institution, but then, the population of Helotes is 25, so everything is.
"Willie Nelson plays there sometimes."
"They still have the sign on the wall that says '$50 Fine For Fighting'?" somebody asks.
"They still do."
Of course, Sara and her mother and brothers have moved to Los Angeles since Sara got picked out of 5,000 little girls to play the old Shirley Temple role in the remake of the original Damon Runyon story about a little girl who gets left with a stingy bookmaker as security for a bad debt.
Sara bounces off the bed and across the rug to tell somebody: "I was so good at gymnastics in first grade they moved me up to the third grade. 'Scuse me, I gotta go to the bathroom."
"Wrong," says her mother when Sara is out of earshot. "You can't believe anything she says. She gets asked all these questions and she doesn't know what to say so she's taken to making things up." She nods with a look that says she expects her listener will understand. "She did get promoted in dancing, though, she was so good at that."
After a stay of approximately 17 seconds in the bathroom Sara rushes out. She pauses at the nightstand to sip a coke. She starts to hike up her dress to tighten her tights, but thinks better of it, there being company present, and scrunches them back up by grabbing them through the dress and doing a quick hip wriggle.
"Can you do this?" she says. She tries a cartwheel that collapses against the side of the bed, definitely not the kind of cartwheel that gets little girls promoted to the third grade in gymnastics.
But when she climbs back onto that bed she's in control, possibly the finest luxury-hotel bed-bouncer in the country.
The other little girl in the room asks her: "Do you like being in the movies?"
"Why are (bounce) you (bounce) interviewing (bounce) me?" Sara asks, a hint of disappointment in her voice, the other little girl being, after all, part of Us in a world of Them -- the entourage in the hotel suite includes: Walter Bernstein, the movie's director; two public-relations people, a tutor and Sara's mother. Them.
"Kyew, kyew," Sara is saying, a gun noise. "You gotta fall down."
"No, you," says the other little girl, who's back bouncing.
"I hitcha right in the face."
They take turns being casualties floating on this bouncing sea of a bed while the public-relations woman explains to yet another person that it's hard talking just now, there are these two little girls . . .
In the movie, Sara is grave, unsmiling, even dour, trotting after Walter Matthau, winning the hearts of all, etc. The idea, says director Bernstein in the suite's living room, was to avoid all comparison with Shirley Temple. "I wanted a touch of gravity. I used her reactively. The picture is essentially Walter Matthau's. It was hard for Sara. She was losing teeth when we were filming, so we had to fit her with a denture. It was very uncomfortable."
The owner of possibly the only baby-teeth denture in history sprints through the living room with her friend. They flash through a door and run down the balcony.
"Look at all the people, they look like tiny, tiny ants," Sara says, with a look that suggests the friend has not sampled the delights of 15th-floor suites before, and needs a hint of guidance.
The tutor, a woman of professional patience named Joanne Strangman, waits and watches.
"See that, Sara?" she says, seizing a moment. "That's the Jefferson Memorial."
"Eeeeeeeyahhhhh," says Sara, climbing the railing with just enough vigor to induce an anguished flinch on Strangman's face.
"There's an airplane, there's an airplane," Sara yells. "It's this small."
"It's teeny tiny," says the friend and they scrunch hands and faces into gestures of teeny-tininess which leads into a quick bout of wrestling which cuts into an emergency-style scuttle back through the door as if some unspoken Luftwaffe were diving down to strafe. The grown-ups are left behind, pondering the March air and Sara Stimson's contract with Universal Studios -- she being the youngest by far of the whole new youth wave in Hollywood, Brooke Shields, Diane Lane, Linda Manz et al.
Inside the bedroom, the grown-ups, should they choose to look, could see the bed bouncing again, the bed-clothes, the pink dress, the public-relations woman, the whole world, if you look at it from the girls' point of view: bouncing.