Written by PP Rega

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Thursday, 15 January 2009

image for Casablanca, 1943: Even the "Big 3" Go to Rick's

In the winter of 1943, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Charles De Gaulle converged on Casablanca to discuss Allied war plans. After an arduous day of strategies and tactics, they shuffled off to Rick's "Cafe Americaine" in order to unwind. After a couple of rounds of aperitifs, Charles ambled over to the piano and began tinkling on the "ivories."

Unbeknownst to everyone, there, behind the bougainvillea, peered Churchill's wife, Clementine. There was a hankie clutched in her hand and a tear meandering down her cheek. She was careful not to be seen by anyone at the "Big Three" table.

Pretty soon, Winston, feeling sleepy after a dozen double brandies, waddled off for a nap. Ugarte, the waiter, came up to FDR and placed another whiskey-and-soda near him.

"Excuse me, monsieur," said the waiter to the President as he was watching the PM take his leave.
"What kind of a man is zee Prime Minister?"
"Oh, he's just like any other man, only more so."

Meanwhile, with Churchill gone, Clementine tentatively stole her way to the piano. While Charles was playing "Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah," she rested her hand on Charles' and said, "Please, mon General."
"Oui, Madame Churchill?"
"Play it once, Charles. For old times' sake."
"I don't know what you mean, Madame."
"Play it, Charles. Play 'As Time Goes By.'"
"Oh, I can't remember it, Madame. I'm a little rusty on it."
"I'll hum it for you. Da-dy-da-dy-da-dum, da-dy-da-dee-da-dum…"

At that point a shoe came flying from the foot of the American President and straight into the occipital area of the Free French general.

"Chuck, I thought I told you never to play…" and FDR's words stuck in his mouth as he saw Clementine slowly walking to him.

Clementine: Franklin, I have to talk to you. I have the Letters of Transit.

Franklin: Yes?

Clementine: Now we can fly off together like we did many years ago…to Berlin.

Franklin: Well, maybe not quite Berlin right now, but I remember every detail. The Germans wore green, you wore blue.

Clementine: I must go off with you. I can't fight it anymore. I ran away from you once. I can't do it again. Oh, I don't know what's right any longer. You have to think for both of us.

Franklin: All right, I will. Here's looking at you, kid.

Clementine: What the hell does that mean?

Franklin: It means I'm sticking with Eleanor.

Clementine: Oh, God. No!

Franklin: Hush, Clemmie. Inside of us, we both know you belong with Winston. You're part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

Clementine limps off, crying silently. Charles leaves the piano and sits beside FDR.

DeGaulle: How extravagant you are, throwing away women like that. Some day they may be scarce. Mon Dieu, you're not getting any younger and with zee disabilite'!

FDR (a little tipsy after his fifth whiskey-and-soda): Here's looking at you, kid.

DeGaulle: Merde! What zee hell does zat mean?

FDR (sadly): Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.

De Gaulle (pinching FDR's cheek): Ahhhh! Zee amor, she never fades.

FDR (signaling for the check): Chuckie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The End

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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