Back to Casablanca: Chapter Five

Chapter 5

The giant door knocker echoed through a large stone house in Casablanca. The house was just like the two houses that adjoined it, airy with arched walls, and windows looking out over a lush courtyard with a burbling fountain.

“I’ll get it,” shouted a beautiful, tall, brown-eyed woman in a silk kimono. Her name was Chantal van Cleve; her husband, Hans van Cleve, was typing in another room. Hans was deaf as shit from playing jazz trumpet the past twenty years back in their native Amsterdam, so he really didn’t hear the door knock or his wife shouting.

Chantal opened the door to find herself looking down at a slightly shorter, intense looking woman with sharp blue eyes. With her was a rather spacey-looking, tanned, barefooted girl, holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers. The girl seemed to float into the house, leaving both of the other women a bit flummoxed.

“Excuse me,” said the blue-eyed woman, still standing on the doorstep. “’Rossa? What have we discussed about going into other people’s houses without being invited?”

“That they could be fucking?” Rossa replied. “OH! And it’s not polite!” She smiled. “ESPECIALLY if they’re fucking.”

The smaller woman shook her head.

“I have to apologize for ‘Rossa. She ate a whole shitload of peyote last night, thinking it was some kind of cookie. She still hasn’t come down yet.” She paused. “To be honest, she’s a little spacey, even at full power, but she’s the best pickpocket in all of Casablanca, so she’s got some mad skills there.”

The woman held out her hand. “My name is Annie, and I’m a Soapmaker. I saw you moved in, and I wanted to bring you these.” She handed over a lovely gift basket with eight beautifully wrapped bars of soap, and a ninth bar that was unwrapped.

“Frakkin ‘Rossa,” Annie muttered to herself. “She almost had the basket right.”

“It looks really pretty to me, and I’m really grateful—“

Annie the Soapmaker turned and threw the ninth bar over the fountain. When it landed, it exploded.

“Holy SHIT!!” exclaimed Chantal.

“Hon?” Hans called from the other room. “I think there’s somebody at the door.”

“Don’t worry,” Annie reassured Chantal. “It keeps the solicitors away. Anyway, we live next door—my husband, daughter and me. Testarossa Ferrari’s dad is leader of all criminal activity in Casablanca, and she lives in that huge house next to The Blue Parrot. That’s the bar where he does most of his dealings, so if you ever need anyone `disappeared,’ or whatever, he’s the man to see. He’s fat, wears a white suit, and looks like Sidney Greenstreet in `The Maltese Falcon, if you ever saw that.”

“We did, back in Amsterdam,” Chantal replied. “Thank you for your present. These soaps smell fantastic.” She paused. “How rude of me. My name is Chantal van Cleve. My husband, Hans, is typing in the other room.”

“’Rossa? That’s a hookah, not a flower vase, but good try.”

Chantal laughed, and floated off to the kitchen to get a vase. She returned shortly, and ‘Rossa began arranging the flowers. Then rearranging them. Then re-re-arranging them, smiling all the while.

“Holy God, I have to hide my peyote better,” Annie the Soapmaker mused.

“You sell drugs??”

“Not exactly. I experiment with making different substances. Some of them…well, they involve less savory elements. Which reminds me, do you have any hypochlorous acid I could borrow?”

“Some…”

“Hypochlorous acid? I’m working on a new beverage, but I’m out of hypochlorous acid, and now I’m out of peyote. Dammit. Oh, well. The people near my lab tent are throwing a big, obnoxious shindig, and they are pissing me off. Thus? It’ll just be those little bricks that explode. ‘Rossa and my five-year-old love throwing those. Welcome to the courtyard. We’re on the right outside your front door. The house to your left in the courtyard is my assistant, Hermione, and her girlfriend, Lisbeth. They’re both geniuses. Be forewarned: Hermione will talk your ears off. Lisbeth probably won’t talk to you for a year, but she’ll play chess with you anytime. And don’t forget about Rick’s! We’ll see you there tonight.”

‘Rossa glided back in from the kitchen, carrying the vase. “Because, Mrs. van Cleve, everyone comes to Rick’s.” The two women left.

On the round living-room table stood the most-beautiful floral arrangement Chantal had ever seen. Apparently, she thought to herself, ‘Rossa did have some mad skills.

Chantal walked upstairs to choose an outfit for her first night at Rick’s.

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One Response to “Back to Casablanca: Chapter Five”

  1. Sounds like fun! Especially the exploding soap.

    😀

    There’ve been a number of recent incidents out here where children have accidentally eaten pot brownies and cookies belonging to their parents or Grandma. The kids usually get rushed to the hospital to have their stomachs pumped, but I was wondering what it must be like for an eight-year-old to get high. Obviously there are issues with giving an adult dosage to a small child, but maybe my childhood would have been a lot more bearable if I had a pot brownie in my lunchbag. Cheers, tom.

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