The Fez is that funny flat-topped brimless round usually red hat we often see in film. From Sidney Greenstreet playing Signor Ferrari in Casablanca to Boris Karloff playing Imhotep rising from the dead in The Mummy to Laurel and Hardy’s slapstick comedy in Sons of the Desert and Bing Crosby playing opposite Bob Hope in The Road to Morocco, the official headgear of the Ottoman Empire iconicity signifies and symbolizes all things Middle Eastern prior to the 1980’s. So it is with idea of the use of the fez in The Green Fez.
My intention and desire to incorporate the fez sprung from a blend of growing up with these iconic Hollywood classic favorites combined with seeing my grandfather in his formal pageantry as a Shriner and Mason. It just seemed like a way to incorporate and enshrine a little piece of my life and experience into story, preserving it to fondly revisit and to share with fans. My use of the fez really is that simple here. The rest of the story is mostly unrelated, yet the research and implementation of the fez becomes somewhat central in beginning and the end, but remains inconsequential and is not referred to throughout the majority of the story.
The story starts out in the cosmopolitan city of Paris just as our as yet unnamed and otherwise aliased main character is setting up for an assassination of a corrupt Russian dignitary from a third story window across the street from the American Embassy. Very quickly, the story breaks into a betrayal fueled flight from justice and pursuit of a pair of welching, double-crossing and Interpol snitching hit-hiring Pakistanis. The chase quickly moves through the French countryside and multiple border crossings across Europe, into the Caucus region and then Southern Russia dropping eventually and ultimately into Pakistan. Scenes and settings quickly change constantly throughout the entire story which gave me a great opportunity to educate readers of customs, people and cultures from the huge volume of research that is a hallmark of my storytelling.
Bringing The Green Fez full circle and reinserting the use of the fez into the end of the arduous journey came as a strategic challenge at first. Research and history again came to the rescue, as it often does. Discovering the last official use of the fez as military headgear led to an obscure but interesting fact, and a treasure trove of details. In a remote formerly Indian Punjabi region of western Pakistan is the province of Bahawalpur and the fez was last used there in the remaining personal royal guard of the ruling leader called a Satrap. Hence, the Royal Lancers of Bahawalpur, who had one of the only uses of the green fez. Perfect, I thought, and so it was. Our anti-hero protagonist has a friend on the other end, but only just. So secret must his identity remain for fear of being discovered and leading the authorities and bad guys to the only chance he has to recover his money and catch the two villans. The green fez ultimately is a key prop, allowing our lead’s contact in Pakistan to stand out in a crowd and make the connection. It becomes the goal and objective that the entire story revolves around achieving and a great relief is realized when he reaches it. Inadvertently, the fez belonged to his contact’s girlfriend’s grandfather and was chosen in haste during the only brief conversation the lead has with his Pakistani friend.
As you can see, the smallest detail from virtually any story can become central and key. Sometimes it’s in the midst of obscurity and for indirect reasons importance arises making for some of the least expected and action packed storylines.