Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Special Edition

I wrote this short story with George Lucus' "Star Wars Special Editions" were released in the theaters. Because, Han shot first.


Elisha stared at Bogart’s lips. He was waiting for the words - “Play it again, Sam”.
That was Elisha’s cue. After Rick said it, Elisha shouted, “He used to say, ‘Play it’. They changed it. That’s not what he used to say!”
People shushed him. One woman yelled, “Shut up” quite shrilly. Someone threw popcorn.
That was okay. He was used to it. There was the time in San Francisco was arrested for smoking in the theater. He still remembered every time Rick and Ilsa lit up, so he brought a pack of Nico-frees to a Saturday night screening. He smoked when they used to. (Now they held and sucked on Frooty-Joosey Pops.) The cops pulled him out of his seat just as Louie closed down Rick’s CafĂ© American.
In Chicago, his life had been threatened, so he usually felt he was getting off easily with anything less.
He first saw the film on videocassette. When he talked about “videos”, kids scratched their heads and called him a crazy old man. Sixty wasn’t old in his book, but they called him that no matter what he talked about. Maybe it had something to do with the trench coat and fedora.
The audiences always shouted him down, hit him, kicked him and spat on him. Well, not always. There was that once.
In New Orleans, when Rick’s countered the Nazis’ singing with “God Bless America”, Elisha led the audience with a boisterous, not quite-on-key version of the “Marseilles”. And it seemed every single person in that packed house on Bourbon Street sang along.
Perhaps it was that one glorious moment that kept him traveling from city to city as Casablanca celebrated it hundredth anniversary with a special edition (“with improved picture and content”) released to theaters.
Something kept him going, in spite of the abuse from audiences. Nothing any audience member, usher, manager or cop ever did hurt him as much as the pain he felt when he saw Bogart board the plane with Bergman.

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