The friends

I.

EXTERIOR NIGHT. Dimly lit street out of a Chicago booz’emporium. Neon sign, blue, flickering, intermittently, fucked up, some dirty fake blue light, first act, or what?

Looks like a fucking film noir set, black and white plus something that doesn’t ring all-righty. She feels like on drugs she sez.

The Maltese falcon is not what it seems.

Stuff dreams are made of he sez.

Sam Spade: Drop the gun sweetheart. Welcome to fairy-tale land. Please be served an evening of nonsense and uncut scenes. Like jazz just playing, impro, Cassavetes at the drums dark beat dark city at the edges of gangster-dome – the auto piano plays and you’re in for a ride precious but don’t you worry it’s all fiction a scene from a play curtain’s up we’re in Baghdad hun or maybe Casablanca mind the carpet’s flying it’s time to RUN

Frankie: Okay, this is the picture. Johnny’s been hurt. He’s been hurt bad.
Woman: Look, we can’t leave him here, we can’t. Look, he’s in a pool of blood. He’s gonna die, I know it.
Frankie: We’ve gotta leave him here, honey. We gotta. He won’t talk, I promise you that! Will you Johnny?
Woman: Frankie, I don’t care whether he talks or not, I just can’t leave him like this.
Johnny: Listen. Leave me here I… I… I can … I can … handle it.
Woman: Oh, no, Johnny, no…

Johnny, young Johnny goes, last breath, grim face, goodbye grin ciao Al Capone sends his best what flowers do you want for the funeral don’t go with chrysanthemums maybe black tulips or pink roses, side of cannoli. Johnny’s blood runs down the drain, the black manhole cover red all over, the woman screams. she loved him you know sweetheart, as far as money can buy you love not only cocaine nights. She takes his Borsalino, his last vow, puts it on, pathetic gesture of self-gangster parody, she the woman nothing but yet another babe, decked in 30s garb Hollywood glamour sprayed in blood looks so fake, like, buckets of paint staining her wrinkled cream pleats, skirt out in Neverland, gone, don’t play gangster babe if y’a want pristine clothes…

Meanwhile some siren, high-pitched note, rings hollow vapid and artificial in the night, of course its full moon, won’t do without some Citizen Kane atmo-shot; the cops arrive, smell of cheap beer, leftover booze cans in the car, death running for a mile. Mimicry of justice, revolt, but, truth is, they’re no heroes, mere puppets in the game, same fedoras, who are the good ones anyhow? the baddies honey they’re everywhere

Frankie: The cops are outside. Luke‘s in the car. Come on, let’s get the hell outta this joint.
Woman: Frankie, when they get here we’re gonna be dead, I know we are! We don’t have a gun!
Frankie: Listen. We got three million… Listen. We got three million in the can, here. We can’t look after him, I’ll send the bird to his mother. Come on, let’s just get out of this place, we can do it!
Woman: Oh, no, Johnny, no…
Frankie: Okay now, just lean up against that door. When I give the word “Go” we just…, we just go through it and blast at the same time.

Luke drives a Corvette used to be yellow but how can you tell in this black & white nightmare, maybe its blue now but no the neon’s gone, shop’s out of money, forget about the sign sweetheart… they’ve got three millions enough to buy the whole station, perhaps the city fuckin’ America even. Chicago’s a dirty rat hole of corruption, smells like rotten flesh, flash the dollars and they’ll take you anywhere, welcome to fairy-tale land sweet-heart he sez he sez he sez

Guns fly in the air revolvers bullets and a shower of bills everywhere no serial number sweetheart it’s falcon money Johnny got his gun they’ll send the bird to Johnny’s mum, funeral note for both, ciao Ma limbo’s near. Bills from the sky down the manhole, sucked down the drain and some in policemen’s pockets now let’s stop the pretence Luke’s waiting in the car he picks them up, the woman’s tears already gone. Perhaps not love but the bird held them two, Johnny’s gone for everyone ain’t he sweetheart who cares about Johnny-boy except mummy the widow in her dead man’s grocery store, oh Johnny Jon bye. The emporium’s empty and hey now there’s not a fellow left to take it in skilful hands, Johnny’s gone sweetheart and his brother died last year, ain’t it a dangerous city we live in, fucking New-York Ferriss skyscrapers and null skies. A storm – and we’re dead. America ain’t it a dream alright, it’s

Chorus: Dirty rats thru’ prohibition

Money flowed thru gangsterism

Acting out this fantasy In Hollywoods vicinity

The best part for the best rendition

Conquerin ol’ New York City

Poking fun at superstition

Woman: Hey, there’s a really terrific dress shop. Can we stop this raid while I buy a new gown?

Frankie: I’ll buy you the whole factory, sweetheart. Don’t worry.

Cheap starlet gone gangster whore, ain’t your skirt covered in blood angel, let’s buy you the whole factory mountains of gloves shoes shawls and skirts skirts skirts yeah honey show those legs try one more we’ve got millions in the car and Johnny’s gone no need to split requiesciat in pace we’ll bring flowers, tons. The woman’s mourning’s over, vanished, Neverland, replaced by tulles, shitloads, ruffles by meters gowns for Hollywood but hell it’s too far, can I get a lift sweetheart no safe move to run on my own ain’t it? The money’s flowing, forget the bird, it’s just a dream ain’t it, a bitter American dream right out of a bargain studio, it’s not lead y’a know sweetheart prop-maker’s work, the best, makes plastic shines like gold, all that is gold does not glitter and not all those who wander are lost. Man Johnny’s in limbo with some king from an old fantasy book, c’mon stranger no need for knights and elves y’a got your babe all dressed in silk looks like Gilda down to glittering eyes. The woman’s up to something, wants the bird for her alone, a trick up her sleeve Frankie’s sacrificial meat, she wants the Maltese falcon all that matters no Johnny no boy no tears not on her expensive perfume. Frankie she yells takes out a gun from her garters, shoots the old gangster right between the eyes, between the eyes till’ he’s dead alright. The factory’s shut sweet-heart – i’ll buy it myself, still got a million in the can – laughs i never had the bird Johnny’s was a copy – now tell me where it is honey, bitch, else you’ll die again and over. Frankie moves ah wasn’t a joke, no corpse yet, slowly he mutters get Cairo, Cairo has the answer and he’ll take good care of you sweetheart… sweetheart he has good friends, mind your dreams they’ll kill you and that dress is, really, not your colour, sorry honey you’re no Maureen, now hand me a fuckin’ double gin.
Meanwhile the cops are back on them, they heard of the bird don’t know she’s got a fake, worth more than millions he sez, listen i’ll skin you if you don’t bring it to me, Archer know what it means to be a suicided man? hell find me that bird else y’all soon find out, a town of lost souls down the drains, city of close-mouthed men, Chicago’s on fire tonight, neon signs gone green, flashlights red BOOM always shoot between the eyes sweetheart.

Chorus: Sam Spade his buddy Archer first to go he got it

She spelt it out, how could they know the ‘Fatman’ got it – he dead

Her sister didn’t really live at all-confusion-he dead

His chase led to the Fatman, to face the friends of Mr. Cairo

II.

Scene changes EXTERIOR still, day slowly fading, twilight zone, fancy mansion, some Hollywood location borrowed for them gangsters’ parade. Right honey – act two

Chorus: She came, as in the book, Mickey Spillane

That Saturday night dark masquerade

Had filled his friend with lead, the same, sweetheart

But then, as nothing happens quite the same

Investigation is the game.

Spade is somewhere near got a tip on the bird, the girl, Gardner wannabe, sort of red slit burgundy lips sensual killer type. Babe stands no chance, soon the mask of death gives her away, too many fake diamonds sweetheart didn’t you know this, thiz-iz a classy joint. Grand escalier all lit – chandeliers, nearing midnight, Spade’s undercover, Al Capone garb, real good costume you got there man, screams old police-cop from over a mile. Cairo’s somewhere, back-door brothel, waltzes go and women faint ya know standard Hollywood Saturday night, booze runnin’ hand me a double gin, fuck make it two, where’s the bourbon gone he drinks something else. The woman’s looking for Cairo, curtain-hopping, spying overhearing Chicago’s dirty secrets down here south of L.A., and then a dance Johnny boy ain’t it you, same moves same poignant stare oh Johnny forgive me he moves no more.

Johnny: This silent night and I, I guess a lonely mind might see I’ve seen love on the screen, I’ve seen a screen goddess and me-oh.

Gliding and drinking she slowly fades, fake diamonds blind ol’ Mickey Finn, early Thirties gangster movies, technicolour, of a sudden – dress turns red, like, real red blood-red, buckets from the butcher’s, studio’s got new tech hell man out of this grim black & white for starts like.

Chorus: Silent golden movies, talkies, technicolour, long ago

My younger ways stand clearer, clearer than my footprints

Chorus: That night, the double crosser got it right (Johnny)

Pretending he was really dim

He slipped to Sam a double gin

He woke, the boys had gone, but not his gun

They’d left a note to lead him on

The chase to find the Maltese Falcon-you bet-

…turns out Johnny’s not quite dead sweetheart, no need for florals, tomb was a fake y’all cried for nothing, listen princess, give me the can forget you ever saw that bird, only stuff dreams are made of, there’s nothing more hey i am not even dead look sweetheart? see really can’t trust who writes a script, got no way out, no, silence, hush, hand me those diamonds baby i don’t care if it’s fake sweetheart reality is fake not the other way around, all that’s gold does not glitter and… diamonds are the same, investigation’s the parade.

Meanwhile some cops leave Sam Spade confused and dreaming, he lost the upper hand angel, don’t root for Bogey he never wins, there’s no Paris, you’ll never have it, didn’t ya know the baddy always takes the babe home? It’s Peter Lorre’s joint let go of justice just dance glide away c’mon sweetheart time to enjoy the masquerade, gotta go, Saturday night, Art Deco patterns on the wall, but then who knows the ceiling goes you faint you faint oh yeah precious don’t forget to dream.

Fatman’s dead, he never existed, some black & white trick, they gave Cagney a suit, the bird’s a joke princess, there’s no falcon no Maltese Malta has nothing to do with this it’s just good ol’ Chicago gangster story, even Hollywood’s just a façade, could be Hong Kong’s opium district y’a know props will get you a long way, oh honey what was that in your double gin? Yes, yes the silver screen. Dream sweetheart dream the chase is gone Johnny’s dead again, they shot him, Cairo didn’t like him Lazarus pal, friends took care of it, when the king loses he loses, chessmate, no way out hey Johnny kiddo ask your mum for more flowers!

Chorus: Father love do you work, do you work for Mother

Tell me straight be the Godfather be no other

Media Kings give us now give us total movie

Straight right now, give it clear, give us total movie

Now being here, being now, being here believing

She dreams, that Saturday night dark masquerade, it’s a wonderful life sweetheart, Clark Gable’s at its reign, don’t kill yourself hun now that glum family’s pure gold, ya know, Hollywood take, it’s not grim no, save the angel don’t jump from the bridge alright sweetheart did you see in the morning light, that shadow tells you life’s alright, Fairbanks’ waiting honey, no, dream, you go, no Malta, shall we go to Is-tan-bul?

III.

INTERIOR, day. Some hotel room, fireplace’s going, window broken, place reeks of breakfast bacon and bad cologne.

Kasper: ha, ha, well done Mr. Cairo, and what do you have to say about that, my friend?

Spade: Allright. So you’ve got me in it. What about her?
Brigid: Don’t worry about me, I’m okay.
Kasper: Very magnanimous, sir, very magnanimous indeed, ha, ha, ha
Mr. Cairo: You mean…, you won’t make us an offer we… we can’t refuse…

Spade: Swell. Will we talk about the black bird?

Woman’s gone new girl’s on screen, some Mary chick, acts cold-hearted Brigid, same ol’ deal, mysterious babe, Spade’s on her but then he fails, too much lips to keep him straight, precious it’s a wonderful life we’ll get the bird alright. Don’t talk to Cairo, Spade can take it, Spade’s your hero, anti-hero, trench-coat fedora Humphrey’s face, don’t ya worry sweetheart no don’t go wait

Man: I don’t know which words to put in there sweetheart, you know, I can’t do it. Pretty kind of useless, though, don’t you think so Mary?

Mary’s scene’s all wrong, where’s Edward ‘G’ and all those guns, where’s Jimmy Stewart, should be president, then Chicago’d run, run on cops-o’-clock mob gone no gangsters – no sweetheart don’t you know Capone’s stuff dreams are made of?

Meanwhile the woman’s awake her dress gone, remembers her dream Douglas the thief, no the prince, wait – that bird, Johnny, Frankie, where’s my gun. But is there a bird what’s a falcon, no good for glamour babe, she only needs three tons of lace, fake jewels will do no need for more, bird’s bogus anyway, urban myth, time to leave Chicago, Chicago smells rotten ain’t like the police cars time to go home. Where is she some dark ol’ shed, seems she’s near a wood but wait it’s fake, plastic plastic as it gets, it’s all dressed up she’s been set-up where the fuck. Is it really Hollywood, dearest you tell me, but of sudden a man comes in the picture, well-trimmed moustache, smiles a hundred teeth, earring dangling, what’s that foulard no honey ain’t the Thirties can’t be. What’s that chest full of gold over there, can’t be you’re still dreaming sweetheart no gauze no harem no Baghdad or? take me on your flying carpet Douglas free me prince there’s no bird never been fatman he dead johnny dead let’s go

Man: Come with me to the far lands of Baghdad.
Woman: Oh, if only I could. That’s what I want more than anything in the world, but it could never be…
Man: Of course it can…
Woman: But my father would find us wherever we went. Yes, he has forbidden me to… to even speak to you, if he finds me now. I don’t know what he’d do…
Man: But he doesn’t know that I’m… I’m a prince. Before, I was the thief of Baghdad now…
Woman: It doesn’t matter…
Man: Then follow me, darling, follow me now to the ends of the Earth

Fantasy dawns on the woman, it’s a wonderful life sweetheart, father can get us no more, Johnny’s gone the prince is yours. Live your technicolour dream or wait back to black & white but ain’t it fitting babe your dress looks better in the dark, you’d better go back to the factory sugar, before your trip to the East, not really your colour. Mind Cairo will find you find you at Rick’s right Spade’s not dead and he ain’t like you one bit.

Kasper: The best goodbyes are short. Adieu.

And there goes her silver dream, she’s just another babe down the alley, cemetery’s getting full no i said no chrysanthemums they’ll be buried side by side not Douglas no Johnny, Johnny she abandoned by the car. Sweetheart the police won’t get your body back, your picture doesn’t end Cairo has friends to take care of it won’t spend a penny, his men crush your fake diamonds on the ground, blood flows down the drain you’re gone precious ain’t it fun no one between Cairo and the bird – oh wait, there’s the Spade guy, By gad, sir, you are a character, can’t be bought not with all your millions and your cans. Time to go sweetheart ciao Johnny sends his best.
Mr. Cairo: Listen. I have arranged this display for… for all of you people to… to come here this evening and I… I know you have been searched, but, what you… you don’t realize is, is that in the back of the Maltese Falcon, I have it …
Scene’s changed in the meantime, circa Midnight, Is-tan-bul, full-on display, Arabian nights if it gets to 50 camels, well then, maybe i’ll consider marrying the Berber, vitrines, glittering objects castings everywhere carpets on the wall ain’t it wonderful – Constantinople

Cairo said he found he found… not jewels not a treasure but the back of the bird well sweetheart it hides, like, the formula to a, very new, synthetic drug – nothing like what you ever tried he sez Cairo sez fuckin’ acid kaleidoscope will make millions buy the whole of Chicago and maybe Philly New-York every rat den in America, casinos ballrooms realness all gonna take a voyage and money flowing like a dream, Capone business, Cairo’s empire y’a got fooled sweetheart but don’t worry maybe we’ll get flowers or just dance on your grave.

Lights go down different babe, enters Kaspar’s prostitute, she’s Greek great money to be made in Athens’ quays she sez, yeah why not take a trip baby? let’s board a cruise it’ll be – it’ll be a trip of a lifetime

IV.

EXTERIOR day, mid-Afternoon, orange skies, islands in the distance, deck of a ship all white bird’s safe in the cabin precious formula burnt, tattoed on Cairo’s body no way of getting it sweetheart and you too Spade you need to get ME first and Cairo’s good at playing!

Boat glides Casablanca Fez the Pireus Athens looks grim as ever, daunting weather artificial Greek middle-man iassas give it a break man I won’t trust you now go, try the product oh try it, it’s a dream you’ll see, Cairo’s friends always get treated, well, alright.

Honky-dory world ain’t it? come on let’s go to Paris let’s get the Orient Express the sea’s getting boring and I get, really, seasick anyway. They take the grand steps, glorious cruise, golden furniture fake palm-trees everywhere, there’s a clown on stage all creepy make-up going for the white clown vibe, real eerie, it’s a horror film you’re in now sweetheart don’t you see? ship’s rocking and everything you see is a phantasmagoria, world’s an oil painting but honey stay with us, gangsters will always treat you well and again, huh, dress, not your colour.

Rails flow by, cities in the rain, dirty Europe prohibition landscape’s all ashes and gloom, there’s nothing to look at precious, it’d be more romantic from your box, or, just take some more and please make me a double gin honey, trip’s getting dreary let’s go Paris, he sez it’s burning time to start the FIRE.

You’re watching a stage play. A banquet is taking place… There’s the French middle-man, fedora suit cool air, cigar, chill, they’re at the sculpture ghetto, birds’ manufacture, factory’s chimney burning like the boat a week earlier well Cairo didn’t like the staff much. Xth babe comes on screen, blonde glow, grey gown, drugged to the bone, as the automated piano plays, we’ll always have Paris sweetheart. And then some French joint, somewhere, could be a harbour in dingy Marseille, puddles boxes boxes containers everywhere, shipments at night, welcome to contraband-land honey. But don’t you worry darling don’t cry, it’s the drugs it’s not the ballet I swear – yeah calm down just a play ain’t it?

French middle-man is in the corner beneath the gildings fancy curtains proscenium of Garnier, or wait no it’s the other opera, dirty Bastille, prison-named, inmates, concrete dripping down the walls where’s the bird? Safety curtain falls, middle-man’s hurt but runs all smug dandy Borsalino in the set, fake as the woman’s diamond, apocalypse of the flies, classic old film, Bogey’s lost playing tennis somewhere, Audrey Hepburn wannabe, what’s going on, somehow they all found themselves far down the Seine, opium den, vapours, smells like Chicago alright. Babe try it come with me to the fair lands of Shanghai. Wasn’t cruising wonderful? Heavy smoke in the air, reclining chairs, an all-nighter feast, middle-man’s hunting for the bird, professional, no drugs, white gloves for the upcoming murder, classy ain’t it, jumps on the man but then but then

Spade’s back sweetheart from the depths of Casablanca and Rick’s café sam play our song fuckin’ no it’s cheesy as hell, time doesn’t go by if you take Falcon drugs fights the middle-man hey la vie est belle go find some other job bird’s bogus anyway, c’mon look at the redhead in the corner ain’t she worth your wage? Opium stagnates in their veins brain damage, collateral, collective, place smells of absinthe, Green Fairy, Parisian turf dark and vile with silken drapes. It’s worse than Chicago ain’t it sweetheart? Spade’s too close time to go he’ll just wanna destroy the formula, but do-good won’t give you anything in this world, there’s no chance Humphrey dear, can’t handle it roots spread fuckin’ everywhere Mafia’s Yakuza’s you’ll be dead in no time. Retire Spade, chase ain’t worth a dime just go to your beach cabin you know, Hollywood dream, caravan, drink more and forget about the FALCON.

Meanwhile the police is still lost in Chicago, only hope is Spade but ain’t he middled in acidland, they’re now on a cruise, EXTERIOR night, it’s a ship again, portholes vomit and synthetic nightmares. On the way to Valletta it seems, formula’s just a red herring, the real trip, the real Falcon, it’s in Malta, goal’s to find V, the woman, androgynous she sez but perhaps you’re just gonna see her at a drag show sweetheart and ain’t he the stuff dreams are made of anyway? Valletta’s shore’s closer, II-Belt in Maltese, sound like a replicant’s name, some android from in sixty years, amazon babe, full-on functionality, doesn’t complain cooks 400 dishes by heart speaks all languages and yeah Maltese alright. Streets are narrow sea turquoise it all looks well fake, like, some set from a TV program, tourist agency scam, bet there’s one running in Chicago, send them to Malta ain’t nothing to see, no Falcon and where’s V. Don’t tell me V’s a dream sweetheart, I am getting fed up with this play, nothing happens everyone gets killed and there’s no thing like kaleidoscopic acid is it?

Malta’s weird, columns, temples architectural pastiches, fortresses, makes you feel somehow, like, claustrophiliac, who built this shithole c’mon let’s go back to the States they waiting Hollywood’s got rights on the film come sweetheart you’ll be the lead. This city, man, built in the Crusades, Order of St John, ain’t that a door in medieval London, bastions ravelins crennelated walls enough V show up else i’ll suicide you too or y’a know, let’s play Siege of Malta, send you to Xiberra, oh go on honey, umilissima where you hiding GIVE ME MY ACID. Mannerism, Baroque this city’s fucked meanwhile Spade’s lost in its maze, streets up down he doesn’t get it, language’s weird, can’t really swim can he? Cairo elusive as ever oh la mer, Kaspar decked in purple silk, big body fat disgusting but ain’t he the prince of the empire…

it’s a wonderful life Jimmy sweetheart come to the cruise you’ll love it they’ll knight you with something, they have, like, loads of titles on this island you might just get a coat of arms

Everyone’s in a castle now, Citizen Kane gig, snow-globe of the falcon or, perhaps, V., dormant city in what is now winter; Spade has a gun he’s going to shoot he does Cairo’s dead his friends who knows fourth babe out of the picture, got hit by a travelling bullet, too bad you won’t be the lead after all sweetie, well you weren’t as selling as Maureen so swell go rot in a Maltese graveyard hey don’t complain you get sea-view?

Air is dense with gunpowder, Spade’s blowing the place down, copied the formula just to, you know, sell it to someone more powerful in Chicago – what, did you really think, detectives above corruption? Oh honey there’s a lot you should learn it’s all gangster tricks and rudimentary survival, ain’t like on the silver screen they’re all grim, even the French middle-man yeah him, beautiful Delon-lookalike, just as bad probably strangling some girl backstage or like, buying her.

Music fades Cassavetes’ gone drums down, no more soundtrack just the faint memory of gunshots, a castrato voice, Greek band exits, their song got butchered it seems but hey, the friends of Mr. Cairo, you have to admit it’s quite, far-fetched?

EPILOGUE – Chicago, at Johnny’s mum, or well, dead man’s emporium. Morning light, putrid vegetables in their cartons, dubious food items, cheap wine woman’s in tears oh get over it precious it’s been a couple weeks just go party dance you’ll forget it ain’t you free now? Next door, police station there’s a feast, Spade’s brought back the formula, he didn’t find V. probably wasn’t much interested in metaphysical abstractions. Sold the thing to the factory, got a hell of a deal on the first bunch but it’s a bit, huh, untested. And there goes the police station, rats in the lab, all taking acid sprees, fuck opium it’s so nineteenth-century. There’s a banquet taking place, everyone laughs, crystal glasses echo in the dark, food comes from Johnny’s mum place, sickening, falcon’s the centrepiece of the table. Towering it all – and then….

And then honey ain’t no happy ending, it’s Chicago after all, dirty city gangsters prohibition drugs they all OD it’s a corpse-scape a graveyard, station as cemetery Capone won didn’t he? In his dying minutes Spade’s trying to reach for help but babe, seems he’s just to weak, shaking, he throws a candle on the floor and then BOOM red noise fuck all place’s burning, architectural armageddon, neons flicker there’s capitals collapsing from every corner, windows burn and crash and, y’a know, all the firemen are home cause sweetheart it’s Christmas of course because it’s a wonderful life and you just travelled to Chicago Baghdad Istanbul Casablanca Athens Paris Valletta and devil knows how many other places… all through the lens of Hollywood, dark masquerade, double-crossers, double gins, Maltese facons, chases, money, gangster movies, technicolour, but remember sweetheart ALWAYS SHOOT BETWEEN THE EYES. And don’t forget to dream cause, darlin’, so many places you can go time’s no issue switch to black & white gunshots blood shed and then just like, costumes and the masquerade and after all who knows what Cairo & Friends found in the back of the Falcon?

statuethemaltesefalcon