We will always have Casablanca

3 min

writer/musician based in London www.andrianaminou.com  [+]

Image of Short Story
"Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, why did you walk into mine?"
"Because it’s yours."
I touched the cigarette on my lips; I lowered my chin and looked at him beneath my eyelashes, waiting for his lighter. We both held a moment of silence for the sound the paper makes as it is touched by the fire.
"After all, melodrama doesn’t occur in nature; it’s a purely human invention."
"And I guess we must do all we can to make it happen."
"Precisely. What’s most interesting is that it always takes at least two to make it happen."
He stared at me, trying to find a single reason to argue with that. But I kept talking before he had a chance to search for too long.
"For example, I abandon you and you go far away, as far as possible, as if this was your way of abandoning me more than I did. You open a bar here, in Casablanca. I wonder why. Perhaps because it’s always foggy around here so that wrinkles are smoothened out. Every evening, you fantasize that of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, I walk into yours. In other words, you are a bit of a Cinderella too. One of those guys that go through misery uncomplainingly, pretending they have come to terms with their cruel destiny while they never stop being absolutely convinced that this very same cruel destiny of theirs will generously grant them the most improbable of wishes. Quite an oxymoron; the perfect foundation for a melodrama. Then, in order to perfect the melodrama with a hint of irony, you decide that “as time goes by” reminds you of me, only me. And what do you do next? You get a piano for your bar and you hire the pianist who wrote this very song. And then you reach the peak of irony by forbidding the pianist from playing this specific song, which of course becomes triumphantly present through its absence, more or less the way I do. For years, you have been secretly directing the climax of the melodrama, the moment I walk into your bar, although it’s in the back of beyond, still looking young and pretty because it’s foggy, and I ask the pianist to play the aforementioned song. In the meantime, you are hiding in your dark little corner, inventing and whispering all sorts of spells that could bring me back to you but still pretending you are unsuspecting, too busy; you pretend that you are pissed off hearing that song, you pretend you can’t take it anymore, and you get angry and tears are even filling your eyes; you, with your monotonous voice and the gaze that never cracks. So you burst into the bar furiously but also knowing that finally the moment has arrived for you to act in the melodrama of a so called whim of fortune or misfortune, of the unhoped-for you had been hoping for so hopelessly, and you allow your gaze to cross mine and you instantly forget all this meticulous direction, with which you had been exclusively occupied for the past few years, and you play hard to get, offended, tough and hurt at the same time, romantic, naïve; to cut a story short: in love."
I was perfectly aware of the fact that overly cerebral women got on his nerves. He would have definitely preferred me to shut up and look at him beneath my eyelashes once more. He probably liked this, as it gave him the impression I was much shorter than him, although this wasn’t the case. On second thought, he was probably crazy for cerebral women who played chicks for his sake.
"So which part are you playing in my melodrama? You said it takes at least two for the script to work."
"It was you who decided which part I should play. When you decided to fall in love with me, you also did the casting, didn’t you?"
He pursed his lips a little, nearly smiling.
"I know what this grimace means."
"'Damn it, it gets on my nerves that she knows me so well but it’s so flattering too.'"
I couldn’t believe how cool he could remain, even when he was put in a tight corner. I remember, when we were sleeping together, I used to pinch the skin on his face, just to make sure he was not wearing a mask.
"Listen, all I want from you is a romantic scene. You know, the kind of scene in which we’re standing in the fog and it’s just darkness all around us, as if we were floating somewhere in outer space and you are slightly upset and I am clasping your shoulders. I say a line that – although relatively banal – will become legendary, simply because it contains the word “always”. I gaze into your eyes as if they were wishing wells and I kiss you passionately and desperately."
I stubbed my cigarette and let him help me with my trenchcoat. The night was out there, a night more eternal than usual, and, scattered all around, was the illusion that this night was nothing like any other night. Or that no other night has been or would be like this one. We faced each other in front of the spotlight.
All I could do was smile and look at him underneath my eyelashes, just the way he liked it. He clasped my shoulders while the violins started building up towards the great climax. Damn, how I love being black and white.

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