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The Maltese Falcon: Film Noire Detective HubNuggets

Updated on August 8, 2018
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Elle Fredine (RedElf), photographer, published author, Elle loves seeking out new writers, and catching up with old friends

Image by RedElf: original photo from
Image by RedElf: original photo from

It was dark and cold. Every bone in my body ached like I'd rented myself out as a taxi dancer in a cheap, gin joint marathon.

I finally managed to peel one eye open. Coarse, patterned fabric swam into view. I was lying face down on the floor of my office, my head pounding fiercely. Dust from the threadbare carpet tickled my nose.

Dragging myself to my feet, I staggered over to my desk and slumped into the chair. I pulled open the bottom drawer, wincing as the band of my fedora rubbed against the goose-egg forming on the back of my skull.

Tossing my hat on the desk, I pulled out the half-empty bottle of hooch and two glasses - one for me, one for my partner. I knew he'd turn up soon - just like a bad penny.

I poured a stiff one and sat staring out the window, waiting. It was raining - two a.m. and as dark and cold as a witches' heart - as cold as the day she first walked in.

Musical segue...wailing, lonely saxophone...Please play while reading for the full, Noire experience

Shamus & Gumshoe - B.T. and I had just opened our office: Image by RedElf - original photo from
Shamus & Gumshoe - B.T. and I had just opened our office: Image by RedElf - original photo from

The HubNuggets Team in Action

Zsuzsy and I reconciling the monthly accounts - photo from
Zsuzsy and I reconciling the monthly accounts - photo from
Mr. Big and Paulie - photo from
Mr. Big and Paulie - photo from
Miss Wonderly was a doll-face even if her story wouldn't hold water - photo from
Miss Wonderly was a doll-face even if her story wouldn't hold water - photo from
I could tell Zsuzsy liked the Cairo dame - photo from
I could tell Zsuzsy liked the Cairo dame - photo from
Checking in with my snitch about B.T. - photo from
Checking in with my snitch about B.T. - photo from
The lobby of the Hotel Huston - photo from
The lobby of the Hotel Huston - photo from
Chatting with Anderson's Dicks - photo from
Chatting with Anderson's Dicks - photo from

How It All Started

It was one of those cold, grey mornings that made you wish you'd stayed in bed. Even the sun seemed reluctant to shine. Its faint watery light, barely pierced the fog that shrouded the city's grime.

The sign on the door reads "Shamus & Gumshoe: Detective Agency", but it's really Zsuzsy that keeps us going. She already had the coffee on when I finally wandered in. Zsuzs is a smoldering doll-face with great gams...and boy, can she brew a great cuppa joe. Her greeting that morning stopped me cold - colder than a bag of Birdseye frozen vegetables.

"Jason's waiting in your office..."

Jason Big - rumored to be the master marketer behind the Hub Pages Mob, with his mysterious "fixer", known only as "Fowler". No-one ever saw Mr. Big in public without his bodyguard - a huge gorilla named Paulie, who could tie you in knots quicker than you could say, "Pass the bananas."

Jason Big was waiting in my office alright, but not with his goon. His companions were both lookers - a blond bombshell and a gorgeous redhead. He introduced the doe-eyed blond as Maddie Wonderly, recently returned from Egypt. He said she had an interesting story. To be fair, Miss Wonderly was a great communicator, but while she spun her tale of mystery and intrigue, I noticed that the redhead was watching her like a falcon watching its prey.

"So, you'll find out who's been following me?" It was the blond, Miss Wonderly. I could see Mr. Big watching me closely.

"Of course, Miss. We'll put our top man on it - my partner, B.T. Gumshoe. He's one of the best," I reassured her. Her eyes widened when I mentioned B.T. and I wondered if she'd already crossed paths with the wily jackalope, but then, B.T. had crossed a lot of paths in his travels.

Mr. Big seemed satisfied with my response. As they left, though, the redhead lingered. She held out her hand. Her warm fingers clasped mine. She leaned close, the heady scent of her perfume filling the air. I was drawn to her like a kitty to catnip. She whispered in a throaty voice, "I'm Patty Cairo...c'mon up and see me sometime." Then, she was gone, the click-clack of her high heels echoing in the hallway.

The Plot Thickens

I looked down at the note she'd pressed into my hand - it read, "Miss Wonderly's a fraud. She's after the Maltese HubNuggets. Hotel Huston. Tonight. Room 314."

I felt a chill run up my spine. The Maltese HubNuggets - legendary three-part golden treasure of the Hub Pages Mob. I had to get hold of B.T., and fast. I put Zsuzs to work phoning his usual haunts, starting with HubNuggets Hank's Pool Hall and Greasy Spoon, and the Australian Ale Tasters' Club. Then I hit the bricks to do some sleuthing of my own.

By the time I'd walked into all the gin joints in the city, it was getting late. I ducked into a phone booth to check in with Zsuz. As luck would have it, she'd just reached B.T. - in some hotel bar, she said. Calling the number she gave me, I discovered it was the Hotel Huston. "Funny," I thought, "That's where Cairo's staying..."

I quickly filled in B.T., asking him to meet me in Cairo's hotel room. I could hear women arguing in the background - a real knock-down drag-em-out. "B.T. hangs out in some tough places," I thought as I raced across town.

I wondered briefly if I should call the local fuzz about Cairo and the HubNuggets. As it turned out, they were there ahead of me. A couple of plainclothes Dicks tried to stop me in the hallway - two of Anderson's boys, Richard Hubs and Dickie Pages. I pushed past them into Cairo's room.

Manuscripts, writers' guides, and style manuals lay everywhere - Taurabian, MLS - but no trace of the Maltese HubNuggets, and no trace of the redhead. The trail had gone cold again - colder than an Eskimo's nose in a snowstorm.

Chief Detective Anderson sauntered over. She's one of those tall, leggy dames that make a man's suit look great - any man's suit. "Red Shamus," she greeted me. "You after the Maltese HubNuggets, too? Hub-terpol managed to locate part of the shipment, but Cairo made off with two pieces."

Anderson held out a wooden box. I raised the lid, and suddenly there it was, staring me in the face - the first of the Maltese HubNuggets. Detective Anderson picked up the black statuette and cracked it open, revealing the fabled list of golden HubNugget Wannabe hubs...

Which one of this week's Books & Writing nominees is your favorite?

  • 12% Doctor's Diary: First Day In The Dissection Hall
  • 5% Memoirs of a Field
  • 9% Mystery on the Hawkesbury River
  • 7% River Rats
  • 54% The Women on Thespian Lane (Part 1)
  • 12% Writing Creative Fiction: Setting
107 people have voted in this poll.

This poll is now closed to voting.

The Plot Thickens Some More

A few hours later, I'd heard the whole story - or so I thought - of how Hub-terpol's Agent Ripplemaker had tracked the fabled Maltese HubNuggets.

Apparently, Senior Editor Greenstreet read them from Moscow to Lisbon, then passed them to Professor Lorre, who spell-checked them to London. Ripplemaker followed him when he sailed for New York, but somewhere off the coast of England, he mysteriously vanished overboard. Ripplemaker picked up the trail again in Hong Kong, when the HubNuggets surfaced in the hands of Master Grammarian Patty Cairo. After that, the trail went cold - as cold as last week's macaroni salad.

Then Cairo turned up here, presumably with the Maltese HubNuggets - and in the company of Miss Wonderly and Mr. Big, with Agent Ripplemaker in hot pursuit.

As Detective Anderson and I compared notes, she told me she figured Miss Wonderly had a partner - someone who was helping her stay a step ahead of the cops. Suddenly all the pieces of the puzzle began falling into place, whirling in my brain like a kaleidoscope on a roller-coaster. I had to find B.T., and fast!

I managed to duck out, and headed back to the office.

Wonderly was there, looking as beautiful as she had the day I first saw her, and perched on the desk were two more wooden boxes.

"I'll share," she whispered, her voice soft and inviting, as she walked towards me with one of the boxes.

Mesmerized, I watched as she lifted the lid and handed me the black statuette. It was heavy - heavy as gold. As I cracked open the statuette and gazed at the golden treasure inside, I didn't notice her reach behind me...

Which one of this week's Gender & Relationships nominees is your favorite?

  • 2% Fighting Clean
  • 14% How real marriages work
  • 10% I Can See Clearly
  • 11% Life With the Lunch Lady
  • 7% People Users, Abusers, Manipulators & Sociopaths
  • 55% Won a Trip, Made a Friend
97 people have voted in this poll.

This poll is now closed to voting.

The fabled Maltese Hubnuggets statuette - photo from
The fabled Maltese Hubnuggets statuette - photo from
Chief Detective Anderson and one of her Dicks, arresting Miss Wonderly - photo from
Chief Detective Anderson and one of her Dicks, arresting Miss Wonderly - photo from
Well it was nice to hold it, just the once... photo from
Well it was nice to hold it, just the once... photo from

The Final Chapter

It had all started with the dame. I stared out the window at the rain and took another sip of hooch. It always starts with a dame, and this one had been a real knockout. She'd knocked me out cold - colder than a poached mackerel left over from Friday's dinner.

The Maltese Hubnuggets were gone - every last golden one of them. Gone like the dame... like they'd never been here at all.

"Too bad, Red." B.T. sauntered in and leaned over my desk to help himself to a drink. His trench-coat was still damp from rain. Damp, but not wet. "How long had he been here?" I wondered. "She was quite a dish," B.T. continued. "When did you figure out she wasn't on the up-and-up?"

His question swept the last of the fog from my brain. I peered up at my partner and friend for all these years. Just thinking about it left a bitter taste in my mouth - as bitter as the stale dregs of last night's Australian Ale.

"About the same time I realized you were in it with her," I replied. I stared at B.T., wondering what was going on behind that cuddly, give-away-nothing, jackalope face. "Where are they now?" I asked him. "Does the Wonderly dame still have them, or have you double-crossed her, too?"

For a minute, I thought he'd try to bluff. Then his shoulders slumped and he sighed deeply. "I should have known I couldn't put one over on you, Red. I don't suppose there's any point asking for a head start before you call the coppers - for old time's sake?" he asked, his ears perking up hopefully.

"Better drink up, Gumshoe." Detective Anderson stood framed in the doorway, raindrops sparkling on her badge. "That's the last hooch you'll be tasting for some time."

Slapping the cuffs on the dejected jackalope, she perched on the edge of the desk. "We picked up the Wonderly woman trying to book passage for Katmandu. Agent Ripplemaker's on her way to Jason Big with the last of the Maltese Hubnuggets - we'll be able to read and vote for them shortly."

"Don't look so sad, Bunny." Detective Anderson knew how much B.T. hated his first name - she grinned at him as her two Dicks led him away. Picking up B.T.'s glass, Anderson raised it to his departing back, and downed the last swallow, grimacing as the hooch burned her throat.

"We did well together, Red." Holding out her glass for a refill, Detective Anderson winked. "You can call me Shirl," she said, raising her glass in a toast. "Here's to the start of some beautiful HubNuggets."

Which one of this week's Religion & Beliefs nominees is your favorite?

  • 7% How to change the world
  • 7% Path of a Shaman - A spiritual journey into the mystery . . .
  • 12% Shadows in the Corn
  • 60% Soul Work: Joy
  • 9% William Blake Ponders the Source of Evil in "The Tyger"
57 people have voted in this poll.

This poll is now closed to voting.

© 2010 RedElf


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