A Star Comes to Rick’s: Lent in Casablanca, Night 15

Another Wednesday night simmers and smokes inside Rick’s Cafe Americain. 

At the bar, Sascha pours Yvonne a whiskey from Rick’s private stock, another bonded salvo in his ongoing battle to win her affections. 

At the roulette table, a young couple gambles badly, trying to win enough money to escape to Lisbon, en route to America.

Rick Blaine lights another Chesterfield King, and stares down at the chessboard in front of him. He sips his Bourbon and move his knight. Across the board, a very small, peculiar looking girl glances up from reading Principia Mathematica. She smiles a lopsided smile and moves her bishop.

“Checkmate.”

Rick glares at the board, bitterly tosses down a $100 bill, and walks away, shaking his head.  A girl with very bushy brown hair kisses the victor on the cheek. “Masterful.” The small woman smiles briefly, her eyes sparkling before flashing back to her book.

Sam the piano-player starts singing “Knock on Wood” for the eighth time tonight, until a blind black man shoves him off the bench. Brother Ray nods to the band, and Rick’s starts jumping to “Hit the Road Jack.”

Victor Laszlo sits at the bar, trying to arrange an exit visa from Berger. Captain Renault sits chatting with Ilsa Lund. Annie the Soapmaker and Testarossa Ferrari get progressively gigglier with each draw off their hookah, and they mock everyone–Nazi, Vichy, refugee–with equal aplomb. Carl sits down with Herr und Frau Leuchtag, and they drink a toast to America.

A group of Nazis argues with some refugees. Tempers flare.

The door opens, and a woman enters Rick’s. She shimmers like white diamonds. As if a shot has been fired, all noise stops. Ray Charles quits playing; Emil the croupier cuts off his patter.

Rick stands and faces the new arrival. He stands up straight, and lifts his glass in tribute.

As if suddenly unfrozen, everyone in Rick’s stands and lifts a toast to the beautiful, elegant woman.

Her smile dazzles. The crowd drinks as one, then clears an aisle, clapping. Nazi and refugee, soldier and soapmaker, ingenue and bar floozy alike, they cheer. And the radiant woman nods her thanks, then walks slowly to a back table, where a dashing Welshman, smiling, waits.

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5 Responses to “A Star Comes to Rick’s: Lent in Casablanca, Night 15”

    • Thanks, LT. When I hear “movie star,” I think of her, even though the only film of hers I can think of in the last few decades was “The Flintstones.” She had that kind of “muchness” that endures.

  1. the radiant woman nods her thanks, then walks slowly to a back table, where a dashing Welshman, smiling, waits.

    I’ve read eleventybillion obits/hommages/remembrances/essays/notes on Elizabeth Taylor over the last two days, and this one is the only one that *almost* made me cry.*

    and…how come I hadn’t seen this until now?
    [shakes tiny fist of fury at WordPress]
    [goes back to read previous entries]

    * I didn’t cry. I was there and you werent’ and there are no witnesses and nobody can prove otherwise

    • Oh, and if you’ve missed the first installments, I’ve kinda added a few characters to Casablanca’s world, although I contend that Lisbeth Salander could beat Rick in chess, and that Annie the Soapmaker would be a perfect subversive merchant and sometimes-hoodlum.

      Thanks again for the compliment. One out of eleventybillion is pretty cool. 🙂

  2. Indeed, there were no witnesses.

    When I think of a movie star, I think of Elizabeth Taylor. She belongs in a bygone era, one of glamour and style. That’s why I sent her to Rick’s.

    Thanks for stopping by, M, even if you didn’t actually cry. 😉

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