shades of Hemingway / Part 1, the arrival…

It is a difficult story, yet I have promised to tell it and so it goes…  something like this… something like I have never experienced before, something like nothing I have since.  It so happens that what you are about to read is true and based on actual events.  The facts have been distorted, embellished and/or  fabricated to further enhance the contents appropriate to the theme.  No names have been changed to protect anybody.

Key West, Florida was our destination, fun and frolic was our agenda.  Nothing else mattered, we had four days and at the southern most tip of the United States, we could forget about our 9 to 5 existence, lay back with the natives and chill.  It was February, all the news we needed was on the weather report.

There is this high speed boat that leaves Ft. Myers Beach, gets you to Key West in about 3 hours.  We boarded with eager expectations, thrilled at our adventurous spirit, bound and determined to spare no emotional expense.  We were out to have a good time and damn the spectators that got in our way.

My friends, Keith and Laura, had made arrangements for Annette and me to stay in this little bed and breakfast a block off of Duval St. towards Whitehead St.  just at the zero mile marker on Highway A1A.  Supposedly a big deal but I had never been to the Keys before so location wasn’t a prime concern of mine.  And when Keith added that the place was supposedly haunted I could only chuckle within myself.  I didn’t believe in ghosts, UFO’s or income tax, for that matter.  But this place had been owned by a jilted woman whose late husband was a bigamist.  His first wife from Cuba supposedly came, claimed a large inheritance from the widow and kicked her to the street. As she stood on the front porch with her children at her side she vowed to the locals who had gathered to witness her eviction that she would always remain “in spirit”, or so the story goes.  Now you can hear her weeping late into the night… they say, if you have heart and the insomnia to listen.

Our arrival to the Key West Bight was met with a wealth of tourism which we were accustomed to and a layed back kind of atmosphere the type of which I was not.  Florida has to be the tourist mecca of the world.  Everywhere you turn there is some vendor trying to wrestle your vacation savings from you, though we were already savvy to that being from the southwestern part of the state.  Every gas station in Florida sells post cards, beach towels and suntan lotion.  But old town’s historicity assailed my senses more than any other Florida city I had been to.  Every story I had read about it held it’s own kind of oddity. 

For example, the old lighthouse was kept for 30 years by a woman named Barbara Mabrity who had taken over after her husband died.  At age 82 she was dismissed from service, not because of her age, but because she spoke out in favor of the Confederacy.  During the Civil War Florida was a Confederate state, but the fort in Key West remained under Union control.  Apparently Barbara’s sympathy for the cause didn’t settle well with the soldiers and she was given the boot.  I felt a tinge of excitement, not for the Key West party atmosphere (which I was all in favor of) but for the locale itself.  This island thrusts further south than any part of the continental U.S. and felt a million miles away from our cousins in “the north”. 

We hastened away from the ship with our luggage in tow, briskly walking past boat docks and vessels, trying our best not to look like we didn’t know where we were going.  Keith  directed us down Front St.  toward Duval while Annette and Laura lagged behind.  I was caught somewhere in between trying to follow Keith, listen to the girls and take in my surroundings at the same time.  Keith and Laura are seasoned travellers and have been all over the world… Hawaii, Amsterdam, France, Germany, South America, Mexico.  They have come to Key West several times for Fantasy Fest, and knew their way around.  We hiked several blocks from the seaport before we made our way to Fleming St. and turned right.  Sure enough, halfway up one block was our bed and breakfast.  We chugged up the stairs to the front porch, glad to shed our luggage and the humiliation of being new arrivals.   

The Marrero Mansion at 410 Fleming St. was built in the 1880’s.  A cigar manufacturer, Francisco Marrero, commissioned it to lure his new bride, Enriquetta, to move to Key West.  Successful in his endeavor,  they had 8 children there.  It wasn’t an overly large “mansion”, but with a quaint front porch and french doors that led to a parlor inside we were more than satisfied with the accommodations.  Keith and Laura stayed in a suite downstairs, #13.  Annette and I had a room upstairs,  #16.  Enriquetta’s ghost is said to prefer #18…   

After a brief rest,  the four of us ventured out to take in the sights up and down Duval St.  We stopped by Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and were told that we “just missed” him… which we didn’t believe.  But we enjoyed the booze and atmosphere almost as much as we would have if Ol’ Parrothead himself had been serving them up.  Late into the evening our boat ride and alcohol began to catch up to us.  We sauntered back to Marrero’s and went to our rooms, content with our partying ability and looking forward to a full day in this tropical paradise on the morrow.  We joked that we’d lie awake and listen for Madame Enriquetta but Annette was asleep before her head hit the pillow.  As I began to drift, I thought I heard… not a woman crying but the rat-tattat  ding! (carriage return)  rat-tat-tat ding! (carriage return) of an old Royal typewriter. 

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6 Responses to “shades of Hemingway / Part 1, the arrival…”

  1. chirchi965 Says:

    AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

    is at loss for words…lol

  2. seamonster02 Says:

    Quite impressive so far. Have you really never been to Key West? I know we went to Key Largo together but have you not been further down then that? I loved Key West and its atmosphere. I hope you checked out Mel Fisher’s sunken treasure museum. We went there back when Mom was alive & met Mel Fisher himself. Very cool place. Where else can a person hold a real gold bar brought up after centuries in the sea? How was the ride on the fast boat? I’ve wondered about taking it but have heard more bad things then good. 🙂 K

  3. damewiggy Says:

    I’m loving this.

    Finish the story, daddyyyyyyyy, pleeeeease.

  4. chrisfiore5 Says:

    chapter 2 posts wednesday night…

    stay tuned.

    peace.

  5. babychaos Says:

    That was great, looking forward to chapter two!

    Cheers

    BC

  6. chirchi965 Says:

    Yay…and yes that would mean i would get to read it on thursday :-S

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