Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Maltese Falcon and me

Statue of the God Horus
as a Falcon
, Egypt,
Ptolemaic period
(335-30 BC), Art
Institute of Chicago
In honor of TMC's nationwide rerelease of The Maltese Falcon in theaters, here's a short-short I wrote five years ago that invokes a line from the movie, though the line does not occur in Dashiell Hammett's novel. 

The Philadelphia showing to which I had bought a ticket was cancelled because, said the manager of the Cinemark Penn 6 theater, of legal obligations to show the first-run movies on the theater's regular schedule. Those movies, should you be interested, included Zoolander 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3.

Down the Shore

by Peter Rozovsky
Sally took the Lavender Room and left the Leather ‘n’ Spice Suite for me. I thanked her for that much; a guy’s got a reputation to keep.

Sally was all right. Sure, she’d cooed over the scented candles and chintz-covered throw pillows. But she drew the line at the teddy bears – five on the parlor settee, seven on a second-floor notions table, and one that scared the hell out of her when it fell on her head from the top of an ivory-inlaid cabinet in the breakfast nook.
That’s why I suspected her when I found a bear with its guts ripped out the next morning. She just looked at me funny as we headed out for an iced coffee before hitting the beach.
Two more teddy bears disappeared that evening, though one turned up under the porch swing soaking in a puddle of spilled mint tea. The glass pitcher that had held the tea lay on its side, next to a knocked-over white rattan table.

Diane shook her head as she mopped up the mess, muttering that some guests lack the simple good manners to come forward when they have an accident. But no one can stay grumpy for long and still run a successful bed and breakfast. “I’m no escapee or anything,” she said, laughing. She slapped the puddle with her mop. “I won’t rip their heads off.”
“Let me do your neck,” Sally said.
I winced as we sat in the Mexican coffee shop reading our newspapers the next morning. “Did you see— Damn!” I threw the paper down and rubbed my left forearm hard. “Itching. We stayed out too long yesterday. Pass the Gold Bond, will you?”

A skinny guy with a faded green baseball cap and a laughing gull tattooed on his left temple stared at the little white clouds as I slapped the powder over my arms.
I recognized the tattoo when I saw it again late that night. Its owner lay face down on the bed and breakfast’s porch, his hands cuffed behind him and a police sergeant kneeling none too gently on his back.

“It was the bears,” the sergeant’s boss said. “This guy’s been a small-time heister for years. He heard a load of heroin was coming down the Shore in one of them teddies, and somehow he got it into his head that this was the town.” He nudged the perp thoughtfully in the ribs with his boot. “It gets pretty shitty for a guy like him in the winters here, and this was his chance to get away. I don’t know what we can charge him with; B&E and cruelty to animals, maybe.” He bent down and hauled the skinny perp up by the arm pits. “Come on, Grizzly Adams. We don’t have much of a downtown, but we’re taking you there.”
If the dope was in Cape Friendly, the skinny guy never found it. Maybe he’d be no worse off than he was before. But maybe whoever had paid for the heroin would make an example of him. Either way, I didn’t envy the skinny guy with the laughing-gull tattoo.

They’d taken him away when Sally came down the stairs. Her mouth made a silent O. “What happened? What is all—” She waved her arm out over the guts of a dozen toy bears.

"It’s nothing, baby, just the stuffing that dreams are made of. Now, let’s go to bed. Your suite or mine?”
© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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Blogger Dana King said...


February 25, 2016  
Blogger Fred said...

G r o a n

February 25, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...


February 25, 2016  
Blogger seana graham said...

Fun. I don't quite get why the theatre hadn't reckoned with the other movies before they scheduled this one though.

February 27, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, the manager told me that it was a matter of deals to show the other movies are struck so far in advance that they do not allow the flexibility of schedule changes.

Fortunately I am old enough to remember when repertory movie houses existed, so I have seen The Maltese Falcon on a big screen.

February 27, 2016  
Blogger seana graham said...

It seems weird they wouldn't know their own schedule. It can't be good for business to sell tickets and then cancel shows. I think in Santa Cruz they don't really have this problem, because they can always show a classic at a midnight showing or a late morning matinee.

In any case, I have also seen it on the big screen, but I'm pretty sure it was in one of the college dining halls at UCSC. Not quite the same thing, but better than nothing.

February 27, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It occurred to me after I got my refund and a free pass to a movie of my choice that a midnight showing of The Maltese Falcon would have been a fine ides, especially since the theater is on a college campus so would presumably have no problem bringing people in.

February 27, 2016  

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