Thursday, January 17, 2013

WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS




I always wanted to write adventure novels, spin yarns like the great heroic writers; Alistair MacLean, Frederick Forsythe, Ian Fleming. MacLean's Where Eagles Dare is total, 100% gutsy he-man adventure. Other influences are Conrad for his dark introspective side, Hemingway of course for style, and Somerset Maugham captures irony so well. I imagine my favorite time era of history is the late 30s-40s-early 50s (not counting the Seventies of course; what little I can remember of it). My single all-time favorite film is Casablanca, hands down.

Given all of the above, it occurred to me; whatever happened to Rick (Humphrey Bogart) after the end of Casablanca? After he kills Major Strasser and they get Igrid Bergman and Paul Henreid onto that plane, Claude Rains tells him there's a Free French garrison down in Brazzaville maybe he could arrange safe-passage...




Disclaimer: What follows is a fan fiction story for fun alone, a thought experiment to get the creative juices flowing and nothing more. No copy write infringement is meant toward Time Warner for the use of characters from the 1942 classic ‘Casablanca’.


Légion Etrangère

So I'm thinking...the story picks where Rick is in the French Foreign Legion, involved in the campaign up in North Africa against Rommel's Afrika Corps, alongside British and American forces.




Life really sucks for Rick right now; it's the Legion for one thing, and if that isn't bad enough he's dodging German bullets and artillery rounds on a daily basis.




Rick's put in his time in the ranks, and he gets a lot of respect because he's older and its obvious he's been around the block. He's obviously a take charge kind of guy so he makes Caporal-chef, which is a pretty big deal in the Legion.

Rick's outfit has been on the line for 90 days, it's time to cut loose for some R&R in Algiers. The cafes are full of soldiers from half a dozen nations drinking and womanizing. Rick's men are having fun chasing all those hot French-Arab beauties; purple silk held tight against khaki on the dance floors and in the pleasure pavilions. Rick himself is angst-ridden; Algiers reminds him of Casablanca and the glamorous life he left behind.

The cafes are full of intrigue, of course. Rick is approached by a mysterious American, who leads him to none other than the mythical General "Wild Bill" Donovan of the OSS - the World War II predecessor of the CIA. He's recruiting French-speaking Americans to work with the Maquis - the French Underground - in German-occupied France. Rick points out that right now he belongs to the Legion (not that he's happy about it); to come over to to General Donovan's team, well, it's going to take something substantial to make it worth his while.




Wild Bill is ready for this, of course. He tells Rick he's authorized to offer $500 in gold coins as a signing incentive. "Double that, and you got a deal," growls Rick. The OSS is willing to hire mercenaries; it takes all kinds to build an unconventional force, to fight guerrilla warfare. Rick sees this as his opportunity to rebuild the fortune he left behind in Casablanca and so he goes with it.

Deserting from the Legion just adds to Rick's desperado mystique. He already was a Man Without A Country before he signed up with the Legion. By deserting the Legion, now he's a double exile outcast pariah.


Occupied France

Rick parachutes in from the bomb bay of an R.A.A.F. Wellington bomber. He's a part of Captain Aaron Bank's Jedburgh detachment and they go through all kinds of adventures with the Maquisards.


Jedburghs in front of their aircraft in England just before a night insertion into occupied France, 1942.

There's all kinds of challenges with the guerrillas; personality issues with the leadership, all kinds of moral dilemmas as the Maquis go about wreaking havoc and seeking revenge on the Germans.

Rick encounters Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) of course, who now has a young child. Her husband Lazlo (Paul Henreid) is in trouble, as usual; he's been rolled up by the Nazis ... again... and its looking bad.

The Gestapo are due to show up at the German headquarters where Lazlo is being held, and they're going to put the thumbscrews on him hard before the Nazis eventually kill him. The whole Resistance movement will be set back two years. Ilsa implores Rick; something has to be done to rescue Lazlo.

The Maquisards don't want to have anything to do with it; they fear reprisals. Blowing up bridges and railroad tracks and sabotaging trucks is one thing, but the German policy is for every one German killed, they line up ten French civilians and shoot them right there in the middle of town.



So everybody looks to Rick to save Lazlo ... again ...

Rick's motto is "I don't stick my neck out for nobody" but when he looks at Ilsa's child in the eyes we suddenly learn exactly what happened that last night in Casablanca when Ilsa came to Rick at his place, for the Letters of Passage. Rick realizes he HAS to do something because ... Lazlo is raising his child. Rick is a double desperado; a man without a country AND a deserter from the Legion - he would have nothing to offer the kid if Lazlo buys it.

There's a council of war amongst the OSS operators; how exactly are they going to bust Lazlo out? Rick listens to everybody's plan, then he speaks up. "You wanna get a guy out of Waffen-SS headquarters right in the middle of downtown Lozère? There's only one way to do it. Forget all this exotic commando raid stuff; we're just gonna have to drive right on up there to the front door like we own the place and clean out the joint."

They have to listen to him because they begged him to come along and be a part of the OSS and anyway everybody else's plan is lame. Rick's idea is just so crazy it might actually work. Rick takes measures to make sure the Maquisards and the French people are not held accountable for the mayhem he is about to unleash: Rick has two United States flags painted on the two front doors of their Citroen sedan. As an added bonus the American flags will give them a psychological edge; make the Jerrys do a double take and possibly buy a few precious seconds.

So they roll up to SS headquarters. Sure enough the two guards out front are so busy staring all goggle-eyed at this weird car with the two American flags painted on the side, they don't even bring their weapons up. Rick and his four-man assault team bust out of the Citroen and unload their Thompson submachineguns into anything wearing a gray uniform. They run throughout the building, clear the place out and spring Lazlo.

Rick takes a special measure to ensure the Maquis are not held accountable for this mass-slaying of German soldiers. He lets two of the Germans live so they can tell the story; one will confirm the other's story. He also takes a group photo of his team in front of the Citroen, American flags and all, right in front of Waffen-SS HQ - this is to backstop the story the survivors are going to tell.

For an added touch Rick leaves a note he prepared the night before featuring a small American flag and the words:

Das Dicke Ende Kommt Noch

"The worst is yet to come" - pinned to the tunic of the highest ranking dead German he could find in the place. They roll out of there, and Lazlo is once more in debt to Rick for his life.




The D-Day invasion happens and the liberation of Paris and that's a poignant moment for Rick because of his past association with that city and his romance with Ilsa. But he has to scoot out of town fast because he doesn't want to end up having to answer questions with the French authorities over his short tour with the Legion. Rick ends up cooling his heels in London, and that's the end of the first part of this concept.

The second concept begins with Wild Bill Donovan offering Rick an opportunity to go to the China-Burma-India theatre as an operator on Detachment-101.


On China Station



Rick ends up in China right at the end of WWII, at the height of the struggles between Chiang Kai-shek's Koumintang and the Red Chinese. This is the "Terry & the Pirates" era of the American experience in China. Think Dragon Lady and opium dens - between his duties Rick has opportunity to rebuild his fortune running in planeloads of guns, whiskey, everything the whole nine yards. Everything but drugs - Rick doesn't mess with that garbage - and women; Rick doesn't buy and sell human beings. He does business with them, or he kills them; one or the other.


Rick there at the historic meeting of Ho Chi Minh and the OSS.

The OSS is signing up as many guerrilla warlords they can find in theater; "Uncle Ho" asks for American arms - specifically, two American Colt .45 pistols - so he can show all the other Viets that he is the Big Papa-san, that the Americans are behind him and so everybody better get in line with Ho - he is the Poo Yai Bahn. Rick increases his fortune, selling a lot of weapons to Ho Chi Minh and moving other supplies by air.

Rick and Ho hang out together; they are doing business together, and it is simply good manners to share a meal, get to know one another.

"But you're a Communist, Ho," Rick observes. "How can you tolerate a mercenary like me?"

"Yes, but I am a patriot first, I am for my country, and against the Japanese. All the rest is simply politics."

Rick shrugs; he is a soldier of fortune, and Ho's business is money in the bank.

Rick is in Hanoi at the end of the war; he's a businessman again - he doesn't belong to anyone's Army anymore and that's the way he likes it. He's there when Ho Chi Minh reads the American Declaration of Independence in Hanoi, but then the French show up and run Ho out on a rail and proceed to screw everything up tout de suite.










In the meantime Rick has re-established the famous Ricks Cafe Americaine - in Hanoi this time.









Enter TigerLily; that is not her name but that is what Rick calls her. She is the quintessential Oriental vamp, in an electric blue silk Suzy Wong dress slit up the side all the way to here, fishnet stockings & heels, the whole nine yards. At this stage in his career this is the only kind of romance Rick can handle. Well right on cue for Rick's luck, some Viet toad goes and tells the French that he dealt arms to the Viet Minh, and worse he's still in contact with them (true). The real deal is the toad has his eyes on Rick's nightclub.

The French pull Rick in for questioning and things don't go well, especially when the Legion catches wind of what's going down - now he's really in trouble. The Legion takes a dim view of deserters in wartime and they want to make an example out of him; it's their standard operating procedure to discourage the others from deserting. Never mind the fact that Rick helped liberate their country at considerable risk to his own life, that doesn't matter because the French are on a mindbender to the lowest common denominator; the precursor to the entire Indochina experience; a train wreck of historic proportions.

Rick is being held in the Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi when TigerLily visits him and helps engineer his escape. Rick makes his move and promptly falls into hands of the Viet Minh. TigerLily refuses to leave his side, and this makes an impression on the Viet guerrillas.

Rick tries to call in his marker with Uncle Ho but that gets him nowhere because Ho turns out to be a natural born backstabber. Ho claims he's in a precarious position, consolidating his power amongst the Communists; to help an American war profiteer at this time would be political suicide. Then out of the blue Lazlo shows up.

Lazlo's against the French nowadays because he's a Communist - he was a Communist all along apparently - and he's particularly got it in for the Foreign Legion because the Legion has entire battalions of ex-Wehrmacht & ex-Waffen SS troops all over Indochina.

But Lazlo owes Rick big time and so he helps arrange his safe passage to Thailand. On his way out of this mess Rick says, "Wait a minute Lazlo. The way I see it you owe me two or three times over. You're getting me out of here, but I want to these two French soldiers to come with me (he indicates two French Foreign Legionnaires, also prisoners of the Viet Minh).

When Lazlo hems & haws at this, Rick asks him, "By the way, Laz ol' buddy ol' pal - how's our kid doing these days?" Lazlo realizes that blood is thicker than water. Rick gets out, and he gets the two Legionnaires out with him.

Rick, TigerLily and the two Legionnaires make it across Laos to the Mekong River, which is the border to Thailand. Crossing the river in a sampan, one of the Legionnaires looks at him funny and says, "I know you, Monsieur. I've seen you before." Turns out he is one of the two Germans Rick let live, way back when he busted Lazlo out of SS headquarter in Lozère, France.




The German says, "You and I were on other sides then, Monsieur Rick. You killed my comrades and friends, and I would have killed you if I had the chance. But that war is over, and now you have saved my life a second time, and I wish to thank you." Rick looks him in the eyes, thinks of all the war crimes the Waffen SS committed, all the blood they spilled, and all the atrocities the ex-SS and ex-Wehrmacht soldiers were in the process of committing in Vietnam. He has an introspective moment. Reflecting on the odd connection he has with this ex-SS soldier, he utters a simple phrase in Latin:

"Legio Patria Est"

"The Legion is my country" - motto of the French Foreign Legion.

Rick has paid his debt to the Legion, in spades. He's finally a free man, for the first time in ten years. The future awaits Rick and TigerLily in Bangkok, the City of Angels.

Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn

TigerLily and Rick go to the Temple of Dawn, and before the Buddha, they proclaim their everlasting love for one another. They become husband & wife.

Buddhism is the religion of birth, and re-birth, and re-birth again. Rick has already worn out more lives than a cat.

It is the dawning of a new day . . .


"That's my story and I'm sticking to it . . .

STORMBRINGER SENDS


11 comments:

  1. Sean -You've been channeling Gen. John Singlaub, obviously. With a more romantic ending of course.

    tweake

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  2. Well done Mon Ami. I look forward to reading the actual books. I love the Tiger Lily story line.

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  3. I have to admit, I really like both concepts! Now write 'em!

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  4. Sean,

    You need to write such a story, it would sell well especially to the adventurer souls that would like it. I remember a writer named AJ Quinnell that wrote the book "Man on Fire" It also speaks of service, loyalty,death and redemption.

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  5. Where can I get this book? I just checked on Amazon.com and they don't have it. They did mention that they had had 400 requests for this just today.

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  6. Sean,

    Please write the rest of it! One request, can Louis pop up a couple of times? Perhaps he becomes the chief inspector in Hanoi. Was TigerLily his "amusement"?

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  7. Sean,
    An excellent concept build. The prose is smooth, and fast-paced, just what the adventure fan digs into.

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  8. That was a great story line. You write it, I'll buy it, read it, and enjoy it. Just remember you need about 10000 hours of anything to be really good. I really did like the story.

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  9. Great read. Really enjoyed your continuation.

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  10. Excellent. Great story line. Very vivid descriptions and I definitely want to read more.

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