Archive for the Back to Casablanca Category

Back to Casablanca: Chapter Six

Posted in Back to Casablanca, Bad Pulp Fiction on September 14, 2014 by tom

Chapter Six

Chantal van Cleve was a knockout in her blue gown, cut low in the back. A sapphire sparkled at her throat. Hans wore a hand-tailored beige suit, and carried a trumpet case.

“Honey? Do you have to bring that everywhere we go?” Chantal asked. “I mean, you take it to the restroom when we go out.”

“I can’t lose her. She’s my angel, and you’re my muse,” he replied. “God forbid I lose either of you, and I can’t take you to the restroom with me.” He smiled white-toothedly.

They heard Rick’s before they saw it. The band was swinging, and there were people mingling outside, waiting to get a table. Hans and Chantal looked at each other, not knowing what to do. Hans shrugged, and they walked up to the door, which was guarded by two giant Moroccans wearing fezzes, with swords by each man’s side.

“Good evening, sir. Madam.”

“Good evening,” Hans replied. “We were hoping to get a table?”


“Van Cleve.”

“Ah, yes. Signor Ferrari has reserved a table for you. Please follow me.”

Hans looked down at his wife. “Signor Ferrari? Who is—“

“—long story, hon. Wait till we get seated.”

The towering host, Abdul, seated the couple at a perfect table for people-watching. Hans pulled out $25 Vichy Francs as a tip. Abdul refused, as the band took a break.

“Signor Ferrari has taken care of it, but thank you. Your waiter will be right over.”

Across the club, a man in a white coat and black bowtie was playing chess with a small, odd-looking girl. The girl was reading Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” then making her moves quickly after the man finished pondering the board and making his move.

At the bar, a woman dressed quite a bit more suggestively than the rest of the clientele glared daggers at the man in the white coat. She was obviously pissed, both in the American and British connotations of the word (angry and drunk, respectively). The bartender was talking her up, but she ignored him, except when she ordered another drink—demanded was more like it. “Sascha, fill it up,” they could hear through the smoky air.

The main door to their right opened, and three Nazis in full dress uniforms entered. They were immediately escorted to a somewhat private area where other Germans had congregated.

“Dammit!” The man in the white jacket exclaimed, pounding the table. “I always forget about your trick with the rook. Here.”

He tossed $150 Vichy Francs on the chessboard, and got up to wander the club. A blind man was riffing softly on piano. The man patted his shoulder as he walked by.

The man in the white jacket noticed Chantal and Hans and walked over to their table.

“Welcome to Rick’s Café Americain. I’m Rick,” he introduced himself. “And you’re Hans and Chantal van Cleve, right?” Rick sat down.

“How did you know who we are?” Hans asked.

Rick smiled, lighting a Chesterfield. “Ferrari told me about ‘Rossa’s adventures in your house today—she’s a total nut, and keeps crawling under my tables when she gets wasted, but she’s best friends with Annie the Soapmaker, and she adds a little color to the place, wearing nothing by silk harem pants and tops. Anyway, Ferrari asked me to show you a good time on his bill.” Rick took a drag off his cigarette, then looked up suddenly, “Emile? A bottle of the Verve-Cliquot ’26 for the van Cleves, please.”

“Louis, the Prefect of Police here, swears by this wine. I’m a bourbon man, myself.” He ashed his cigarette. “I haven’t heard you play since 1937 in Berlin. You were with the Genesee Quartet. Damn, you can play. I see your horn case there. Do you mind sitting in later?”

Hans was taken aback. “No. I would be happy to.”

“I’ll tell Ray you’re here,” Rick said. “Ah. Your Champagne. Welcome, and I hope to see you here frequently. I have a drunk floozy to remove, and a room full of Nazis to keep drunk and calm. Jesus, when they get riled up about Hitler, it’ll drive you nuts. Enjoy your stay. I’ll check back with you later.”

“He seems nice enough,” Chantal said. Hans nodded. He swore he saw a casino through one door that another Moroccan giant was guarding. Some club patrons tried to get in, but there pleas were rebuffed, and they were sent away. Others were bowed through the door pro forma.

“I’ve seen some strange clubs, my darling, but this is one of the strangest. A cove full of Nazis, some tiny chess master girl, the owner dragging a drunk floozy out of the club by her arm, a secret casino, and—shit qaddis—that’s Charles Ray on piano!”

“Hans? `Shit qaddis’?” Chantal asked, sipping her wine.

“Oh. It’s Maltese for `holy shit.’ You know, Maltese, like in the movie?”

‘I don’t want to know how you know this.” She rolled her eyes, as Emile the waiter poured her another glass of wine. She tapped down a cigarette and lit it, blowing a small plume of smoke into the face of a small bug-eyed man.

He coughed briefly, took a sip of his brandy, and sat down, cough-free.

“Good evening. I see this is your first time at Rick’s, yes?”

“Yes. And you are…”

“I apologize. My name is Ugarte.”

Hans reached across and shook Ugarte’s sweaty hand.

“My name is Hans van Cleve, and this is my wife, Chantal.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir and madam.” Ugarte looked all around him, as if his head could swivel 360 degrees. His voice grew quieter, and everyone had to lean forward to hear what the odd little man was saying. They leaned so far forward, in fact, that Ugarte’s sleeve caught fire in the candle. Hans instantly dumped his glass on the fire, but there were only two drops left in it, so Ugarte’s right arm was still going up in flames. All at once, a large splash of water put out Ugarte’s fire, and—perhaps more importantly—soaked him to the bone in ice water.

The source of the splash was Annie the Soapmaker, alertly dumping the champagne ice bucket on the fire.

“Gorrammit, Ugarte,” she scolded. “Can’t you even try to sell exit visas without setting the joint on fire?”

Signor Ugarte stood up, bowed to Mr. and Mrs. Van Cleve, and took his leave. Annie the Soapmaker and Testarossa Ferrari sat down.

“Hans? This is Annie the Soapmaker, and this is ‘Rossa, who did the lovely flower arrangement you mentioned.”

“Oh, yes! That is really beautiful! How did you learn to do that?”

“Meh. You just bite off the parts that don’t look right, then you have it. Et voila!”

“As you can see, ‘Rossa has very little verbal filtering ability.”

Annie the Soapmaker reached into a backpack beneath the table. She smiled evilly.

“Since I had to spill your champagne, what do you say we beta-test my newest concoction, called Europa.”

Hans raised an eyebrow. “But we just left Europa, so—“

“—oh, no. This is another Europa. One of Jupiter’s moons, which is where this bottle should take us.”

Chantal—having heard about acid & peyote, and seeing exploding soap bricks—was suddenly worried. “Um…”

“EMILE! Four glasses, please.” Annie the Soapmaker uncorked the bottle, and Chantal swore she saw a wisp of green smoke come out.

“Don’t worry, Chantal,” said Annie the Soapmaker. “I promise. You’ll love it.”

She winked, and the whole thing began.


Back to Casablanca: Chapter Five

Posted in Back to Casablanca, Bad Pulp Fiction on September 10, 2014 by tom

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?”


“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.

Back to Casablanca: Chapter Four

Posted in Back to Casablanca, Bad Pulp Fiction on August 5, 2014 by tom

Chapter IV

Testarossa Ferrari didn’t so much climb into her boyfriend Ahmad’s huge Roman bath as trip opening the door and fall face first into it. The soap got in her eyes, but she heard splashing from the far end, and made her way over toward the sound.

“I got shot with a tranquilizer dart,” she said. “I shot myself in the foot, technically. Then Annie brought me back here and knocked me out with something. And I’m all woozy, but I wanted to see you, but now I have soap in my eyes, so I can’t see anything.”

‘But,” she continued, “I heard you splashing.” She went over to Ahmad, and kissed him hard on the mouth. “Soft. You must have just shaved.” She kissed him again, running her hands up Ahmad’s hairy chest. However, there was no hair there. Only two shapely, soapy breasts.

“Oh, shit, Ahmad! Did Annie do something to you?” ‘Rossa finally wiped the soap from her eyes, and found herself staring at the rather stunned faces of The Princess of Lichtenstein, The Baroness von Heidelberg, and Jane. Jane still had soap on her face from where ‘Rossa had kissed her.

“You’re not Ahmad,” ‘Rossa observed, “So why are you in his bath?”

“Um, this is our bath. You’re in our hotel room, ‘Rossa: Room من ستة وسبعين at the Casablanca Inn and Spa.

“This isn’t Casablanca Arms Condidmen, no, wait. Comedidum. No, wait–”

“Condominium?” Jane offered helpfully.

“Yes! That’s it.” ‘Rossa smiled. She stood up and looked around the room, then down at the two women.

“You know,” she whispered conspiratorially. “You’re both naked.”

“We’re taking a bath, so of course we are,” the Princess replied. “And as wet as you are, you can see everything through your silks.”

“Uh-oh. That’s not good,” she looked down. “Yeah, boobies and hoo-hoo muffin.”

“Since you’re already wet, you could just join us in the bath. Hang your silks up to dry, and even borrow a robe if necessary.”

“Then we’d be naked in the tub.”

“Because we’re taking a bath ”

“Oh,” ‘Rossa looked forlorn.

“What’s wrong,” asked Jane.

“You want me to take a bath with you.”


“I was hoping for a three-way with two women. Annie won’t play that way, and the little Swedish girl hates me, but I’ve always kinda wanted to be with two–

“The Baroness of Heidlberg Anastasia, the Princess of Lichtenstein,” shut ‘Rossa up with a deep kiss, while Jane unwound what little silk was left.

And they shared  a bath. And all of their backs  got scrubbed repeatedly. And this author never employs euphemism.

“’Rossa, your silks are trashed. There’s a robe over there on the hook. You can borrow it and wear it home,” Jane offered.

“Can I wear it to Ahmad’s instead?”

“Sure. You can wear it anyplace you want.”

“Whew,” said ‘Rossa. “Okay. Thank you. Ahmad works at The Blue Parrot, but that’s my dad’s place, so I’ll see you at Rick’s tonight. I hear there will be awkwardness and subtruge. ‘Bye!” ‘Rossa left.

“What the fuck?”

“Subterfuge,” Jane translated from ‘Rossa-speak.

“Oh, okay,” replied the Princess. “Now—“she smiled lasciviously—“We might have enough time that I could get my back washed againn!”


Rick’s was hopping that night. Far from the tired standards Sam had droned out, Ray Charles led his orchestra through “Hit the Road Jack,” “What I Say,” and dozens of upbeat songs that had some people trying to dance, then falling down, because they were so unfamiliar with real music.

Rick sat at a small table with Annie the Soapmaker, downing shots of Reichstagfeuer, and chasing them with bonded bourbon. They were getting drunk pretty quickly. Annie put on the brakes with a large vodka, extra soda, and lime. Rick just laid-off the Reichstagfeuer, and sipped his bourbon.

“Rick,” Annie said quietly, taking a big sip of her drink. “Don’t lie to me. You have those letters of transit, don’t you?”

“And what if I did?”

“You could get Laszlo out of here on the plane tonight.”

“And make a fortune doing so. But?”

“But you’d forever lose the chick who looks like Ingrid Bergman.”

“Right. She dumped me in Paris, and I don’t want her to leave here without me.”

“Well, send Laszlo with someone else?”

“Pity Ugarte bought it.”

“You’re sure he’s dead?”

“Yeah. That’s what Louis told Laszlo when he and Strasser were `interviewing’ him this morning.” Rick took a cigarette from his case and offered one to Annie. He lit them both.

“The sad thing,” he said, blowing smoke toward the ceiling, “is that all Ugarte wanted was to leave. He didn’t give a damn about Laszlo or the Free French movement or any of that crap. He just wanted to sell the letters, get an exit visa from his source, and get the hell out of here.”

“Yeah,” Annie ashed her cigarette. “Why didn’t he just use the things himself? Get on the plane at the last minute with his letters, and be gone from here?”

“He wanted the money, kid.” Rick sipped his bourbon. “He told me last night he was going to sell them for more money than even he had ever imagined. He wanted the whole pie. Not just a slice.”

“Nice metaphor.” Annie smiled.


At the bar, a French Resistance soldier and an SS enlisted man were arguing over Yvonne the bar floozy, who was now a proper woman eager to try out her new vagina. The problem was, the men started to scuffle, which caused Jane to spill her two glasses of Reichstagfeuer. In a flash, she smashed the glass against the bar, kicked the soldier’s knee sideways, and held a pointed piece of glass an inch—or about 2.5 centimeters—from the man’s eye.

“You fuck with me again, and I’m jabbing this into your brain, get it?”


For good measure, she kicked the man square in the nuts. Annie the Soapmaker walked over from her table and kicked the Nazi in the balls as well. Fuck it. This wasn’t The League of Nations; it was Casablanca. Rick walked over.

“Sascha? Could you help this green-faced Nazi back to his table, then sweep this up?”

“Yes, boss.”

Sascha dragged the excruciated soldier back to the Luftwaffe table.


Major Strasser walked over from the Nazi part of the bar. Rick stood up, his head only reaching the officer’s shoulder. Annie stood up, only reaching the tall man’s xyphoid process. Concerned, Police Captain Louis Renault came scurrying in from the roulette wheel.

“There is far too much anti-Nazi sympathy in this club,” Strasser said.

“Well, it’s because you are a bunch of twatwaffles.”



“See what I mean? Captain, I want this club closed down immediately.”

Annie snapped.

“No, you don’t want it closed down. First off, you schwanzsaugenden Nazis would have to drink at The Blue Parrot, and there’s no way your Wagnerian brains could handle such speed and mysticism as John Coltrane has on sax over there. And second, Rick was just about to say how he was going to offer you 10% of the gambling profits as a goodwill gesture, wasn’t that right?”

“Um, yeah?”

The tall Luftwaffe major in his dress uniform and the diminutive young genius in a worn pair of Chucks and an “If You Can Read This: Suck My Balls” t-shirt locked glares.

“Very well, Mister Rick,” the Major said, breaking his gaze first. “That arrangement will be satisfactory to me.”

Rick and Annie nodded.

“Herr Rick. Frau Annie the Soapmaker,” and the Major took his leave.

Louis looked concerned. “I overheard what he was saying, Annie. If he has a complete dossier on you, that means he’s had you researched and watched closely. We all know you’ve done some…unusual things here.”

Testarossa Ferrari had remembered to wear panties tonight, Annie noticed.

“Sascha,” she called. “A round for our table, for Yvonne, and the two pairs of Risk-playing lovebirds over there.” She gestured toward The Baroness Anastasia von Heidelberg, Princess of Lichtenstein, and Jane, sharing a table with Lisbeth, and Hermione–fresh back from “Restrepo.”

Annie looked skeptically at her friend. “’Rossa, you never buy drinks for that many people, because you never have anyplace to carry money.”

“In my panties I do.”

Everyone cringed simultaneously.

“However, tonight? It’s on Major Heinrich Strasser of the German Luftwaffe,” she said, taking a big wad of cash from the wallet she’d just stolen from the Nazi. Sascha mixed the drinks grinning ear-to-ear. Even Rick laughed. “They’re all on the house, Sascha.”

“Oh, and that dossier? I can’t believe you lost your virginity when you were—“


And later that night, the Nazi report on Annie the Soapmaker’s virginity loss (and other skills, crimes, and sexual predilections) crackled in her ever-fired stove, their smoky secrets wafting away into the desert night.

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

Posted in Back to Casablanca, Bad Pulp Fiction on August 4, 2014 by tom


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—“


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—“


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.”


“’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.

Back to Casablanca: Chapter Two

Posted in Back to Casablanca, Bad Pulp Fiction on August 4, 2014 by tom

Herr Lehman’s ass un-darted, and his wallet being pillaged, Annie the Soapmaker called over to the Baroness Anastasia of Heidelberg and Jane, suggesting that perhaps playing with sharp objects were not a good idea at that particular moment in time. The Baroness signaled to Karl the waiter, who came by immediately.

“Yes, madam,” he said. “How may I be of service?”

“I’d like a margarita, all top shelf, but with Midori instead of triple-sec, and no salt.”

“Very good. And for your friend?”


“My apologies. For your wife?”

“A Reichsctagfeuer Cinnamon Schnapps in an iced tea glass.”

“Very good.”

The Baroness felt a tug at her skirt.

“It’s haunted down here. WOOoooooooooooo.” A bout of uncontrollable giggling came from beneath the tablecloth, along with a large plume of smoke that was clearly not pipe tobacco emanating from beneath the Baroness Anastasia von Heidelberg’s skirt.

“Here.” A hand with purple glitter nail polish handed a mouthpiece up the Baroness’s skirt.

“Try again. Aim a little higher.”

“Oops. Sorry.” More giggling. “I almost stuck the mouthpiece into your—“

“And here’s your margarita, Baroness, and your schnapps in a clean iced tea glass, ma’am. Anything else for now?”

“No, Karl. Thank you.”

“—hoo-hoo muffin,” ‘Rossa continued. ”When they’re busy, Karl doesn’t like when I sit under the tables, but it’s like playing farts.” The girl snorted. “HAHAHAHA! I mean farts. NO!! Wait! I mean, I meant forts. Here.”

The hand managed to make it over the Baroness’s skirt this time. She took a deep hit off of the hookah, and floated about 2.5 centimeters—maybe an inch—above her chair. The room took on a kaleidoscopic view, but not a scary one—all the swirling shapes were smiling and enjoying themselves. Even the odd little man yelling “RICK!!” over and over as cop-looking guys carried him away seemed to be laughing.

“Holy fuck,” The Baroness Anastasia of Heidelberg said, handing the hookah to Jane, who’d finished half a glass of her schnapps. “Well, I could try it, I guess.”

She took her hit, and immediately felt sunlight coming from within her, glowing like a star. ‘Rossa crawled out from under the table and sat the empty hookah down. “Aww. Our hooker’s empty.”

“HookAH,” corrected Jane, knowing how The Baroness loathed incorrect English.

“Her-me-own. These ladies need refilling,” Testarossa called to the next table.

“Dammit, it’s ` Her-MY-own-ee,’ and you know it.” ‘Rossa winked at the Baroness and Jane. “’Night, ladies. If you need anything—hotel upgrades, rental cars, rental camels, free drinks at the Blue Parrot, somebody to be `disappeared’—let me know. My dad’s the leader of all illegal activities in Casablanca, but he reluctantly does some legal stuff, too. Any friends of Annie the Soapmaker are friends of mine.”

Jane looked confused. “But we don’t KNOW—“

The Baroness Anastasia of Heidelberg pinched Jane under the table.

“—um, what time it is.”

Testarossa Ferrari laughed. “When they give last call, you go home. You drink more. You fuck. You sleep. You call room service for hangover breakfast, take a bath, maybe fuck again, then get up and do it again, Amen. Until tomorrow. Baroness.” ‘Rossa gave a slight bow. “Jane. Nice to meet you both. ANNIE! I’M LEAVING!!!”

“Okay, ‘Rossa. I’ll catch up with you as soon as I’m done with this, and as soon as you’re done being an uncouth twatwaffle.”

Testarossa looked uncharacteristically pensive. “That could take years.”

“Well, either way, ‘Rossa, I’ll see you tomorrow. Violet said a new bus of tourists came in from Oran today. I told her she could rob them, but only the tourists, not the refugees.”

“My dad sells exit visas. We don’t want to rob refugees. Poor devils. Why do tourists come here?”

“It’s like watching a camel wreck, where those long legs are tangled, the drivers are screaming at each other, sand’s blowing over everybody, but the camels don’t care. They just hang out, happy not to be carrying fat-ass humans on their humps for awhile.”

“So the tourists are complete assholes?”

“Well said.”

“I’m sobering up. Good night, Baroness. Jane. See you in the morning at McDonald’s, Annie.”

“Good night, Testarossa. Stumble carefully.”

Annie picked up the hookah and carried to the Baroness and Jane’s table. Hermione and the small chess-playing girl joined them. Hermione loaded the bowl with something brown and mossy with red hairs.

“Oh, God, no more of that–”

Annie the Soapmaker laughed. “Nah. It’s just a special pipe tobacco we grow in the greenhouses behind my labs. Speaking of which, I’m Annie the Soapmaker. You met Testarossa Ferrari—almost more intimately than you probably would have expected. This is Hermione, and that pint-sized girl over there playing chess with Rick is Lisbeth.”

“I am The Baroness Anastasia von Heidelberg, and this is my wife, Jane.”

“Heidelberg doesn’t have a Baroness, though.”

“I know. `of Heidelberg’ is our family surname, so my stupid parents decided to name me “The Baroness Anastasia. I’m really Princess of Lichtenstein.”

“So your name is `The Baroness Anastasia von Heidelberg,’ but your Royal Title is `Princess of Lichtenstein’? Why not use both? `My Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen, The Princess of Lichtenstein, The Baroness Anastasia von Heidelberg.’ Yeah. That’s a little too snotty and British.”
“Plus, Lichtenstein only has about 20,000 people,” The Baroness continued. “ I know most of their names when I see them at Goering-Marcus.”


Across the lounge, Rick and Lisbeth were setting up the chessboard.


“Nah,” said Rick. “He’s done for. They’ll say they shot him trying to escape, or that he killed himself. Anything other than the truth.”

“The Letters of Transit?”


“Does anyone realize they’re not real?”

“Apparently not, kid, because a lot of blood has been shed over them”

“Eine Menge Blut ueber sivergossen worden.”

Rick looked at the small woman with the ring in her nose. “What?”

“`A lot of blood has been shed over them,’ in German.”

“You scare me, kid.”

“I get that a lot.”


The Baroness of Heidelberg took a deep pull off the hookah. “Let me get this straight. The Prefect of Police keeps arresting the same people whenever there’s a crime and he knows who did it?”

“Yeah. `The Usual Suspects.’ He pays them a salary, and bonuses for Bastille Day and New Year’s.”

“Christmas and St. Patrick’s?”

“Muslim country, mostly.”

“But the Italian Lieutenant?”

“A complete idiot. I wouldn’t trust him to take care of my goldfish.”

“So, Annie,” The Baroness Anastasia von Heidelberg started, “You really make soap?”

“Oh, sure! All kinds of products: soaps, shampoos, crème rinses, mud packs, foot cream, C-4 explosive bricks, morphine, and—with the help of my partner in crime (at this, Hermione blushed)—potions and poisons that can do anything but make you piss purple for a month to hollow you out from the insides. Plus, naturally, inoculations for our friends. Stop by my tent tomorrow, and we’ll get you taken care of.”

Jane whispered into The Baroness’s royal-though-not-a-baroness ear. The Baroness Anastasia of Heidelberg gently kissed Jane on her forehead.

“We need to go. Where do we get our check?”

“Bah, you’ll be back tomorrow night. Just settle up then.”

“Do we need, um, to hire that big guy over there to walk us to the hotel?”

Annie the Soapmaker looked at the door and grinned.

“Abdul?” She snorted. “It’s a plastic scimitar, because he kept cutting customers with his real one. He’s also kind of a wuss. A very LARGE wuss, but a wuss nonetheless.”

Annie took a drag off her cigarette. “Finally, you’re friends of Testarossa Ferrari’s. Nobody in this dusty corner of hellions and thugs would dare lay a hand on you. You could probably walk down the street naked, and everyone would avert their eyes. You’d be sunburned to pretzels before you got here, but you probably could.”

Stubbing out her cigarette, Annie watched a tall thin man walk through the front door. “Alas, dear friends. I must away.” She turned to the man. “Come join us, minion/husband. This is The Baroness Anastasia of Heidelberg and her wife, Jane. This is my full-time husband and part-time minion, Abdul.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you both.”

Jane cocked her head to one side. “Isn’t the really big Moroccan guy at the door named Abdul?”

“Yeah,” Annie replied. “My Abdul is Swedish—Abdul Svenborg. Fucked up, ain’t it? See you tomorrow.”


Lisbeth handed Hermione another 100,000 Vichy Francs, kissed her cheek, and led her out the door. Karl and Abdul were putting chairs up on tables for the cleaning crew, and Rick was counting money.

“I guess that’s our cue.” The two held hands and walked through the door.

“Ladies?” Rick called from across the bar. “We’ll talk tomorrow. I just felt like letting that weird little Swedish girl kick my ass in chess tonight. Goodnight.”

Abdul opened the door, and The Baroness Anastasia of Heidelberg and Jane stepped out into the quiet desert night.

Back to Casablanca: Chapter One

Posted in Back to Casablanca, Bad Pulp Fiction on August 3, 2014 by tom


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.



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.


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.


Going Back

Posted in Back to Casablanca on August 1, 2014 by tom


It’s not Lent, and it may not be every night, but Annie the Soapmaker threatened my life if I didn’t revisit that dusty, drunken jewel in the desert, Casablanca.

And so shall it be. I hope you can ride along with ‘Rossa, Annie, Hermione, Lisbeth, Rick, Ilsa, Laszlo, Louis, Ferrari and the rest, plus–no doubt–some new people I hope won’t sue me.

We leave on the morrow. Pack your pith helmet and your best evening wear, and be careful, for there are vultures, vultures everywhere.


PS: If you missed the original series, “Lent in Casablanca,” you may find it starting here:

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