Back to Casablanca: Chapter Three (w/apologies to J.K. Rowling)

CHAPTER III

Standing outside a dark and scary forest, a young blonde girl with rather protuberant blue eyes was feeding meat to a rather odd looking animal. It had the feathered head and wings of an eagle, and the landing gear of a horse. The animal was called a hippogriff, and the young girl was named Luna Lovegood.

From the dark and scary forest emerged an odd trio of creatures. One was wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt saying “Blow Me.” One was wearing odd robes. The third, a somewhat vacuous and smiling young woman, was wearing harem pants of the finest sheer silk, and scarves draped over and around her chest.

Annie the Soapmaker looked at Testarossa Ferrari and rolled her eyes. “’Rossa? What did we discuss about wearing underwear when wearing really sheer silk?”

“Ohhhh. That’s why it’s so breezy on my—“

“—yes. That’s it.”

“—hoo-hoo muffin.”

“You love saying that, don’t you?”

“Yep. Are these the birds? They’re really big compared to dad’s blue parrot that he keeps at his club, The Blue Parrot.”

Annie the Soapmaker sighed. “Of all the BFF’s to have…”

The third girl was named Hermione Granger, and she once lived in Hogwarts, the giant castle where the Hippogriff was happily munching raw dragon steaks.

“Hello, Hermione,” the girl said airily.
“Hi, Luna.”

“People in school are wondering where you went. I told them the nargles probably sucked you into a distant dimension. Was it nargles?”

“Well, it was more a small Lesbian from another time and place sucking me through a portal in Hogsmeade.”

“Maybe the small Lesbian is a nargle.”

“Could be, I guess.”

Annie the Soapmaker’s head swiveled back and forth, as if watching a tennis match.

“What the frak is a nargle?”

Hermione started, “There this imaginary thing Luna—“

“—THEY ARE NOT IMAGINARY, YOU TWATWAFFLE!”

Everyone stared at the blonde girl, except for ‘Rossa, who was pondering the fact that her pubic hair actually was visible through the sheer silk.

“Do you think anyone ever noticed this before?”

“’Rossa, of course they did. But your father is the leader of all illegal activities in Casablanca, so nobody would mention it,” Annie said. “Plus, you usually remember to put on your underwear.”

“Oh!! Right!!”

“Why are you here, Hermione?” the girl asked. “Harry’s failing out of school without you to do all his homework. I help out Ronald Weasley. I like Ronald Weasley. He’s funny, so I help him with his homework.”

“That’s great, Luna. Listen, we’re pressed for time, and what we really need is a vial of hippogriff blood.”

“Okay. Do you have a spell or something to get it?”

“No, but I have a nice sterile needle. He won’t feel a thing.”

“Plus,” ‘Rossa added, “I have a tranquilizer dart gun to shoot him if he freaks.”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Hermione. You gave ‘Rossa the tranq gun?”

“Yes. I was hoping she’d hold it in front of her—“

“Gotcha.”

Hermione bowed to the Hippogriff, who bowed back. She walked slowly up to it, and stroked its feathers. “You’re a good boy. You might feel a little pinch.” Hermione gently stuck the needle into the Hippogriff’s vein, and drew out the tube of blood she needed. “Thank you. Again, she patted the Hippogriff, who turned his attention back to the dragon meat Luna was feeding him. All of a sudden, there was a pop and an “ouch.”

“Annie?”

“’Rossa tell me—please tell me—that you didn’t shoot yourself with the tranquilizer dart gun.”

“Okay. I didn’t shooooot mmyyyysseellllfff wiff thuh gunnnnn.”

Annie the Soapmaker looked down at Testarossa’s feet. “’Rossa, there’s a dart in your foot. You really DID shoot yourself with the tranq dart gun.”

“But yooooou saaaid not to tellll yoouuu. I feeeel funny,” and Testarossa Ferrari started giggling. “Thiss is like Jaegermaedchen, only stronger and owier, because theerrre’s a needle in myyy foot.”

The blonde girl kept feeding dragon meat to the hippogriff as if nothing unusual had happened.

“They like dragon meat,” she said.

“Is she some kind of dingbat,” asked Annie.

“Well…she’s different. I could do a memory erase spell on her, but nobody understands her anyway, so why waste it?”

“Fair point.”

The door opened in a nearby cabin, and a boy with round glasses and a lightning bolt scar on his forehead walked out into the group.

“Hermione??” he asked, gobsmacked. “Where have you been?? He noticed the serious girl in the “Blow Me” t-shirt and the translucently dressed girl spinning and giggling with a needle in her foot.

He reached for his wand; Hermione was faster. “RESTREPO!!”

She thought for a minute. “Oh, shit.”

After a year of working together, Annie had never heard Hermione swear.

“What the frak did you do?”

“Um, I put him into a 2010 documentary about the Afghanistan war.”

Rossa fell down in the grass giggling from the tranquilizer. Luna fell down in the grass giggling simply because she’s Luna. Annie stared at Hermione:

“You put him into a documentary about a war? You can’t put people into films, H. It doesn’t work. Either way, he has a magic wand, so maybe he’ll stop the frakkin’ war before I have to go back.”

Hermione shook her head. “He’s really amazingly inept with wandwork. And everything else, except flying. Shit, I have to get him. Can you and your half-naked friend get back okay?”

“I got her. Do what you have to do. Just come back by tonight, okay? We need that potion by tomorrow afternoon, or Sascha’s ass-herpes won’t be gone in time for work Tuesday.”

Hermione nodded and raised her wand: “Auto-restrepo,” and transported herself into a 2010 documentary.

As soon as Annie got Testarossa back to her lab tent, she knocked her out with a sleeping elixir she’d made that morning. The last thing Annie needed was a punch-drunk half-naked girl stumbling around her lab tent.

A little way down the dusty street lay Signor Ferrari’s club/home to his criminal empire, The Blue Parrot. For years, Signor Ferrari—who has no first name—has been trying to hire the singer and pianist, Sam, away from Rick’s Café Americain. Rick would have none of it. However, when Ray Charles staged a coup, and people realized how a good piano player sounded and looked, Rick let Sam go on the spot.

So now, Signor Ferrari was auditioning Sam. He anticipated great things—Sam had always drawn a crowd, and the man could entertain like nobody. The audition wasn’t going well, though. Sam kept moping through songs like “Stormy Monday,” even making “It Had to Be You” sound like a lament. Just when Ferrari was about to kick Sam out, in walked a big black man with a saxophone case. He pulled out a soprano sax, called out a key, and told Sam to try and keep up. The song was “My Favorite Things,” which would be written in 1960, but the sounds the sax man made were lyrical, angelic, and unlike anything ever heard in Casablanca. Best of all, they woke Sam up, showing him that he had multiple fingers that could play actual notes, not just acting like he was playing. He was groovin’.

After the song, the man introduced himself as John Coltrane: “Most people just call me `Trane.’” This cat on the drums is Gene Krupa, and I don’t know who the brother on the bass is, but he can play.

And thus, The Blue Parrot featured the Sandy Sam Quartet, while Rick had Ray Charles with Duke Ellington’s Orchestra. For a small dusty place, there was some hellacious music.

None of this helped Signor Ugarte, who was in a cell in the Police Prefect’s Office, being grilled about the murder of two German couriers on a Casablanca-bound train. Specifically, he was being grilled about the location of two Letters of Transit, signed by General Weygand. They could not be rescinded or even questioned.

What Ugarte failed to realize is that those letters were not bullet-proof. Even though Rick was hiding the letters for him, when Ugarte failed to come up with an alibi, two Luger bullets were shot in his head. It wasn’t Major Strasser—his uniform is far too white and clean—but some black-shirted Gestapo guy.

If Victor Laszlo had gotten to Casablanca one day earlier, Signor Ugarte would have survived. As Rick said, “It looks like fate has taken a hand.”

And fate’s hand could bitch-slap anyone.

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