Back to Casablanca: Chapter One

I

Long ago, in a dark and scary forest, three witches stood chanting around a cauldron:

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting

 

A young woman walked out from the forest. She wore blue jeans, and a t-shirt reading, “If you can read this—BITE ME!”

“No, you stupid, ancient-school hags. You don’t need all that crap. Just make him a nice cup of tea from this.” The young woman handed over a bag of mushrooms. “These will have him tripping so hard, he’ll kill Duncan, his wife, the staff at MacMacadam’s when he gets the munchies, then himself, all in about fifteen minutes, then you three can work on something so you don’t look so much like hooded green prunes.” The girl made a face of disgust. ” And you know, you three could move into the castle and live there, if you can get out the spots of blood. Hahahaahhahaah! Oh, right…we’re not up to that part yet.”

Another young girl came wandering out of the forest, giggling. “This stuff tastes weird.”

“Aw, sweet Christ with a handbag, ‘Rossa. Have you been eating my peyote?”

The first girl shook her head, and grabbed the second one’s hand. With the other hand, she grabbed the sack of fenny snake filets from Hag #3. “Since you won’t be needing these.” The second girl was alternately meowing and howling with laughter.

“Good Lord,” she said. “Even YOUR dad’s gonna be pissed at me for this one.”

She found an ancient tree, and touched a certain knot about six feet off the ground. A portal opened. She grabbed the meowing girl’s hand and dragged her through. And thus, Annie the Soapmaker returned to Casablanca.

 

II

After changing clothes, and de-felinizing Testarossa Ferrari, Annie and ‘Rossa headed to Rick’s Café Americain. Because everybody comes to Rick’s.

It was packed. People were drinking, trying to buy black-market exit visas, drinking and smoking, trying to sell diamonds to fund drinking and smoking. At the bar, Sascha was still trying to get under Yvonne’s sequined skirt by plying her with good brandy. As always, it wasn’t working.

Rick’s was a strange place, where geniuses and fools, the upright and the scoundrelish, the drunk and the really drunk, all hung out in one big, boisterous club. There was a restaurant, a nightclub, and a smoky casino, where only certain people seemed to win, like those who deserved it, those who were about to get arrested and shot, and those who were Chiefs of Police.

In the nightclub, Ray Charles led his big band through a bunch of R&B and soul numbers, which had half of the audience baffled, and the other half terrified. Sam—Ricks’ original piano player—still fumed at the bar, throwing back shots of Cheap Desperation’s Most-Mediocre Kentucky Bourbon, and chasing them with huge mugs of Broken Dreams on tap.

He’d take Yvonne home that night, and they both knew it, though they would pass out before getting nekkid. This was a good thing. Still, people drinking mugs of Broken Dreams can smell each other from across a crowded bar, regardless of the pea smoke cigarette haze.

Sam was drinking away his pain, because he was a horrible piano player, and Ray Charles staged a coup. Unlike Sam, Mr. Charles’s fingers actually touched the keyboard, and he sang with soul, which had yet to be invented.

The source of Yvonne’s pain was sitting at a small table, upon which stood a chess board. Rick was there, looking sharp in his white jacket and black tie. The girl across from him had a ring through her nose, and was reading the complete works of St. Thomas Aquinas, not watching the game. Rick moved his bishop.

“Check.”

The girl looked up with mild interest, and moved her knight, taking Rick’s bishop.

There was a commotion as a handsome couple entered the bar. He was tall and handsome, and she was also tall, and looked a lot like Ingrid Bergman. (If there were ever a movie about Rick’s, Ingrid Bergman would be perfect to play Miss Ilsa Lund) The man—who seemed to have some sort of device stuck up his ass—told the maître d’ that he’d reserved a table for two, and that his name was Victor Laszlo. The French Resistance people murmured quietly—“Holy merde! C’est Victor Laszlo!!”—then went back to losing their culos at blackjack.

For Rick’s was truly an international bar. People came from all around: Spain, France, Austria, Hogsmeade, Sweden, The United States of America, Germany. (Many of the Germans were not exactly welcome there, being Nazis, spies, or pickpockets).

There were those, too, who thrived in Casablanca, who loved it there, and wouldn’t think of leaving. Signor Ferrari—the leader of all organized crime in Casablanca—was having a great time, even after that Maltese Falcon thing in San Francisco proved to be a hoax.

His eldest daughter, Testarossa Ferrari, was having a ball with her BFF, Annie the Soapmaker. Annie the Soapmaker and her minion/husband loved Casablanca, too. There was no pesky mildew to exacerbate the minion/husband’s allergies, and—other than the wartime vibe, frequent murders, and high crime rate—a wonderful place to raise their Kindergartner, Violet.

Violet was precocious, already fluent in three languages—and able to swear proficiently in two of them—and, under Rossa’s tutelage, she’d become one of the most effective pickpockets in all of Casablanca. In fact, she once made off with 300 Deutschmarks and a Luger from one unsuspecting Sturmbahnfuhrer who was trying to get under Yvonne’s sequined skirt. On her way out of Rick’s, the Luger accidentally went off shooting Signor Ugarte in his right foot.

“Dammit Ugarte,” Rick growled at him. “Now I’m going to have to have Sascha mop the floor where you’re bleeding all over it.”

“Checkmate,” the girl at the table said. Rick checked the board. He hadn’t anticipated the move she made with her rook.

“Shit,” opined Rick, and tossed 100,000 Vichy Francs (approximately fifteen American cents) upon the board. “Go again?”

“Later.” The odd, short woman in the black Judas Priest “British Steel” t-shirt got up and walked over to a boisterous table, where four women sat drinking Jaegermaedchen, a jilled-up version of Jaegermeister designed especially for women. Annie the Soapmaker—the chemical mastermind behind the liqueur—poured another round of shots for The Baroness Anastasia von Heidelberg and her wife, Jane. They linked arms, then downed the shots in one, shuddering as the liquid burned its way down their throats.

“C’mon,” said Jane. “Let’s go play darts.”

“Careful,” warned Annie the Soapmaker. “You could put somebody’s eye out.”

“As if…” snarked The Baroness Anastasia von Heidelberg.

Jane grabbed the darts, and aimed carefully at the board.

Her shot went off at an angle probably seventy degrees right of center, pinning Police Capitain Louis Renault’s hat into the voluminous ass of a Portuguese man. The man was a German expatriate named Hans Lehman.

Hans Lehman was a moron. He’d been living in Portugal for a year, and wanted to get to America, and he’d heard that the best place to find exit visas was in Casablanca. Not knowing that 97% of the people in Casablanca were trying to get to Lisbon, Portugal—where he’d lived for twelve months—he went to Casablanca. Once he got there, he found himself trying to get an exit visa to get BACK to Lisbon, so that he could catch a Clipper to the US. The irony was lost on him. Again: moron.

Hans Lehman didn’t feel the dart in his ass, because it hit him in his very fat wallet, rich with Portuguese and—better yet—American money.

Testarossa Ferrari removed the dart and the wallet from Herr Lehman’s possession, smiled primly as she gave Capitain Renault back his hat. Herr Lehman was quite embarrassed when he got his bar tab—swollen from trying to get under Yvonne’s sequined skirt—and couldn’t find his wallet to pay.

It’s just as well: beneath Yvonne’s sequined skirt was a stolen German stiletto, and the largest penis in all Morocco.

Annie the Soapmaker’s secret sexual reassignment cream required the fenny snake fillets, and she’d been fresh out, ergo the trip to see the three witches.

When Yvonne (born “Ivan”) had come to her for help, Annie the Soapmaker had promised to help her.

The next day, after Yvonne left the chemist’s tent–truly on her way to becoming a woman–Annie rested her chin upon tented fingers and laughed, marveling that this would be the first time the cream user wanted the gender reassignment, at how many Hansels had been frightened to awaken as Gretels.

“C’mon minion/husband. Grab Violet, and let’s go get dinner. Our daughter hit up a wealthy American, and I’m thinking we go to that place where they grill a whole cow for you.”

Having done something kind for a friend, on a perfect desert day, it was good to be Annie the Soapmaker.

 

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4 Responses to “Back to Casablanca: Chapter One”

  1. Sascha, pour me a gin rickey. It looks like it’s gonna be a bumpy ride! 😀

    (Yay, Annie the Soapmaker!)

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