Bogart was late.
As I sat in the afternoon shadows of my favorite table at Paddy's Place,
I nervously scribbled a few notes on the back of a coaster.
Suddenly, that unmistakable voice half-growled and half-lisped a curt
"You the guy who won the 'Lunch with the Dead' contest?"
he asked me.
It was the first really warm day of spring, but there stood Bogie,
in that familiar trench coat and fedora, smoke curling from the cigarette
stuck to his lower lip.
"Please, sit down," I said in my best Peter Lorre nasal tone.
"That's a lousy Peter Lorre," said Bogart as he pulled up
a chair. "What kinda joint is this?" he asked, taking a quick
"I figured this would be a good place," I replied. "It's
just a little neighbourhood pub, but they let you smoke here."
"They let you smoke?" asked Bogie. "Hell, I smoke when
I'm sleeping! You mean somebody's gonna try and stop me?"
"Well, you've been dead for awhile now. They've proved cigarettes
cause cancer, and they're slowly making it illegal to smoke in public."
"What the hell do they care if I smoke or not?" he chuckled.
"The other people don't have to if they're scared of cancer. Hell,
throat cancer got me and I didn't start whining about it."
"Yeah, but they say 'second hand' smoke kills people too,"
"Second hand smoke? What's that? Smoking the butts after someone
puts 'em out in an ashtray?"
"No, no. It's just the smoke that goes out into the air."
"On the way here I nearly choked on the car fumes," he said,
shaking his head. "Is there a law against second hand cars?"
"Sort of, but not really," I said.
"Anyway, kid, what's this date with the dead thing all about?
One minute I'm drinkin' scotch and playing gin rummy with John Garfield
and Errol Flynn, and the next thing I know I'm being whisked back to
Earth for lunch in the twenty-first century!"
Bogie lit another smoke and tipped the brim of his fedora a little
farther down over his eyes.
I waved at the waitress, Catherine. He looked like he needed a drink.
"Yeah, they had this contest, and I won, so here we are!"
"Say, why didn't you pick some good lookin' dame? There's nothin'
funny goin' on with you, is there?"
"Well, actually, first prize was lunch with you and dinner with
Marilyn Monroe. Ad promotions these days are getting really sophisticated!"
"So, you're having dinner with Monroe later, eh? Now there's a
good lookin' dame. Speaking of which, how's my wife doin'?"
"Well, Bogie, she was a dish when she was young, and she's a truly
beautiful and classy older woman now."
"Yeah, they broke the mold when they made Lauren Bacall. I miss
Bogie and I raised a glass of whiskey in a toast.
"To dames," muttered Bogie, "give 'em a 'shlap' in the
mouth, and a 'shlug' from a .45, and they're still only barely manageable."
"The women's libbers wouldn't like that," I offered.
Before he could ask me what a 'women's libber' was, we spotted Fat
Phil and Rodney L.T. Coombs through the window. They were headed towards
"I knew it!" Bogie growled. It's the Fat Man and the Gunsel,
and they want the dingus!"
"Dingus?" I asked.
"The Black Bird - the Maltese Falcon for chrissakes! Sorry, kid,
but I gotta leave early. Is there a back door to the place?"
I pointed towards a back door just off the washrooms.
"I owe you one, kid. You've done right for a pal, and that's what
counts in the world."
Bogie slipped out the back as Fat Phil and Rodney L.T. Coombs entered
by the front door.
"What are you doin' here, and why weren't we invited?" asked
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," I smiled. "Anyway,
if you're lookin' for the dingus, it ain't here!"
They both looked puzzled as I got up and strolled towards the door
whistling "As Time Goes By."
"Put my friends' lunches on my tab," I called back to the
Catherine, "It's the right thing for a pal to do."
Editor's Note: Stay tuned for "Dates
With the Dead: Part Two - Dinner with Marilyn" and be sure
to visit Norm's web site: www.normhacking.com