“Play it once, Sam. For old times’ sake.”

A foggy evening around smoke-filled night club on a back street of no particular town somewhere in the world. Anywhere; it makes no difference. Hollywood actors and actresses, some old and long gone to their graves and some not so old and very alive mingle here. In a corner, a small orchestra dressed in all white suits is getting down on hot jazz and swing. A few patrons make a halfhearted effort to dance in the small open space between the band and the bar. Two and four-chaired tables closely surround the dancers as if awaiting their turn to spin around the floor. Similar tables fade into the gloom toward the back of the high-ceiling room, each lighted with a candle in a clear glass. The huge candelabra is lighted only by the flickering glow from below. It is a time of reunion as stars of the present day are somewhat cowed by the mere presence and high stature of those who preceded them. For the most part, the veterans from the past ignore the new faces of big screen glamour. Many of the quiet partiers sit at the long, leather and brass accented mahogany bar; ripples of blue cigar smoke and clouds of gray tobacco smoke mingle and curl about their heads. Scotch and soda seem to be the popular drink; only Arnold was drinking beer. Some of the old-timers, both women and men, wear hats and clothing from the periods of of their fame. Let’s look in and listen to the various snippets of conversation surging and waning up and down the bar …

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
“There’s no place like home.”
“What a dump.”
“The stuff that dreams are made of.”
“That’s where I want to live the rest of my life. A warm place with no memory.”
“Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”
“If you build it, he will come.”
“Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

“I’ll be back.”
“You talkin’ to me?”
“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”
“Well, nobody’s perfect.”
“It’s okay, I wouldn’t remember me either.”

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
“Say ‘hello’ to my little friend!”
“Either he’s dead, or my watch has stopped.”
“The son of a bitch stole my watch!”

“Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!”
“As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”
“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
“I’ll have what she’s having.”
“I have nipples, Greg, would you milk me?”
“You can’t handle the truth!”

“I’ll be back!”
“Heaven can wait.”

“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
“Listen to me, mister. You’re my knight in shining armor. Don’t you forget it. You’re going to get back on that horse, and I’m going to be right behind you, holding on tight, and away we’re gonna go, go, go!”
“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
“I wish I were a woman of 36, dressed in black satin with a string of pearls!”
“Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

“You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.”
“I want to be alone.”
“I’m king of the world!”

“Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.”
“Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.”
“Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?”
“Tell me, I would like to know – what did my blood taste like?”

“Go ahead, make my day”
“Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time.”
“A toast, Jedediah: to Love on my own terms.”

“I’ll be back.”
“May the Force be with you.”

“Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!”
“I may go back to hating you. It was more fun.”

“Hello, boys, I’m Baaaack!”
“Here’s Johnny!”
“Wait till they get a load of me!”

And so on into the morning hours … the voices gently quieten as today’s stars gather up their egos and  leave, promising to “do this again sometime”. The old heroes, heroines, and villains linger on as does a piano player from the departed orchestra. Eventually, the room empties as the ghosts from the past again fade into Nirvana leaving only soft echos of themselves to warm the bar stools until daybreak when they too unhurriedly slip away. One lone figure remains seated at the end of the bar,  smoke curling from a forgotten cigarette loosely held between manicured fingers. A faraway look haunts his eyes; what is he seeing; what are his memories? Soon, bright sunlight spears through cracks in the boarded windows and the bygone actor’s lips curl into a sad smile as he tranquilly fades into his memories, leaving only wisps of smoke from the dieing ember of his cigarette. One final echo accompanies his departure …

"Here's looking at you, kid."

Published in: on February 6, 2011 at 5:15 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Amazing story. Very nice. I love the atmosphere of this evening (or rather night). It could have been a screenplay of a short cartoon. Really sweet and moody.
    “Casablanca” is perfect movie. Both Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman were beautiful and almost magical.
    It’s lovely post, Ken. 🙂

  2. Thanks, my friend.
    I didn’t know how familiar you are with American movie quotes. I may be an old romantic, but “Casablanca” is my pick for the best movie ever made in any genre. 🙂

  3. I love the picture Humphrey Bogart.

    I need to rent this from Netflix. Been some time since I has seen it.

    • Thanks, Mark.
      I bought a disc at a yard sale several years ago; I watch it maybe once a year.

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