Zukovsky left Istanbul because of her. She would soon discover she’d stolen a fake. Then her employer would return using lethal means to get the item.
He entered Bulgaria posing as a Jewish refuge, settling in Sofia just as Tsar Boris III plunged his nation into World War Two.
“It would not be wise to leave Istanbul right now, Mr. Gutman.”
“Nonsense, Cairo. I’m convinced Zukovsky took the item into Bulgaria.”
“I insist we wait here. You are British. I am from Greece. Turkey is neutral but Bulgaria has joined the Axis. Do you really think we’ll be allowed across the border?”
“I will not allow the item to escape me again.”
“You’ve waited seventeen years to get it, you corpulent fool. You can wait a bit longer.”
“Stay here with that boy you met at the cabaret if you’d like, but nothing shall prevent me from acquiring the Maltese Falcon.”
I wrote my wee tale for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to take the presented location and a Google maps image and use them as the inspiration for crafting a story no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.
Today, the Pegman takes us to Bulgaria and given its rich history, it was difficult for me to settle on a particular setting or story line. The Wikipedia page had too much information, and I couldn’t find a local news story that was compelling.
I did notice on the map that Bulgaria borders Turkey. I saw the city of Istanbul and suddenly remembered the 1941 film version of the Maltese Falcon. At the end of the movie, Kasper Gutman, played by Sydney Greenstreet, and Joel Cairo, played by Peter Lorre, realize they’ve been duped by a fake and that the real Maltese Falcon must still be with the exiled Russian Zukovsky. I had always wondered what happened to them and the Falcon after that.
I leveraged items both from the 1941 movie (there are at least two other cinematic adaptations) as well as Dashiell Hammett’s original 1929 serialized story (which later was collected into a novel) to craft my tale.
The novel quite clearly alluded to a gay attraction or affair between Cairo and Gutman’s “gunsel” Wilmer Cook (in the movie, played by Elisha Cook Jr.) but that was completely removed from the 1941 film version. I added that back to Cairo’s character here, thus blending the two versions of the history.
I still own a copy of the novel, purchased decades ago, and I’ve seen the film starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor many times and hopefully you have too. If not, please click on the links I’ve provided and at least read the summaries.
I also looked up the history of Turkey, Bulgaria, and Sofia, specifically just prior to and during World War Two for added context.
To view other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.