shades of Hemingway / Part 2, early the next day

I awoke to the sound of a rooster crowing and thought I was back in Iowa for a moment.  Forgetting my surroundings, I stared up at the faded ceiling of a Victorian style room barely lit by the rising sun and started thinking my dreams had made a wrong turn.  Sitting up I remembered where I was.  Flopping back down I remembered why I was there.  Nobody gets up at dawn while they are on vacation.  I watched as the daylight shaded the opposite wall for a moment, then I dozed for another hour.

Later I met Keith on the veranda.  He was eating fruit and granola while watching pedestrians make their way towards Duval St.  Occasionally he would throw a chunk of granola out towards the chickens that were scrambling up and down the sidewalk.  A rooster strutted amongst them.  I cast an irritated eye in his direction but thought better than to make a fuss.  Free range chickens are part of the glamour of Key West and there were ordinances on how they were to be treated.  And the locals, for the most part, are fond of that heritage. The rooster spotted me, stood up straight, flapped his wings and crowed.  I scowled back.

 I had my tea and nothing else, breakfast to me is eggs, toast, grits (possibly potatoes) and bacon, sometimes sausage.  I decided to hold out for a bonafide restaurant, which usually occurred several hours after waking up.  I asked Keith if he had heard any women crying through the night.  He grinned sheepishly and replied that he had heard some moaning but that was about it.  Keith is a sexual juggernaut, thoughts of sex are constantly resurfacing in his mind every 3.5 seconds.  I usually feign naivety just to keep him going.  I told him about the typewriter I thought I heard before I fell asleep and he reasoned that it was probably some guy writing the great American novel on his laptop.  Early morning finds me more agreeable and less concerned about proving a point so I just went along with Keith’s thinking.  I didn’t mention the: ding! (carriage return) that I had heard along with the key strokes.  We sat watching Key West come to life until the girls came outside to meet us. 

At real breakfast we discussed our plans for the day.  Everything we were to see was within walking distance so renting a vehicle was not necessary.  We talked about more shopping and the trolley that runs through old town.  There were definite museums and book stores that Keith wanted to look up.  Despite all his virility,  Keith is a thinker and that is the part of him that I admire most.  He is a cut-up, raunchy and outspoken as they come, but he is also very well read.  He hoped to place one or two copies of his book, Happy Crickets, in a book store/head shop he’d passed the day before so that was a must.  Laura’s main concern was going to see the cats at the Hemingway Estate.  Apparently there are cats with 6 toes that reside there, perhaps as many as 7 or 8 toes for that matter. 

Keith and Laura love their cats, indoors and outdoors… cats rule.  They have scads of cats.  I once went to the grocery store with Keith and he loaded the cart with cat food and litter.  Cans of all varieties and bags just for the variety and kitty treats, along with kitty litter that absorbed and refreshed with every paw scratch and on and on.  He even bought toys for the cats and I imagined if they had candy for cats he’d bought that, too.  I like animals, but like my Grandma used to say out on the farm… animals belong outside.  I hadn’t given much thought to visiting Hemingway’s old stomping grounds but I wondered how Hemingway would react if he knew that the primary reason we wanted to visit his home was to bask in the glory of his ancestral cats.

We decided that for the remainder of the morning we would stick around Duval St. and perhaps catch one of the trams that buzzed up, down and around old town.  Later after lunch and a nap (!) we’d go to Hemingway’s home which was nearby and then walk to Ft. Zachary Taylor which was a jaunt several blocks away.  So we split up, Annette and I strolled down to Mallory Square which was a hub of activity and played tourist.  Keith and Laura remained up on Duval St.  hoping to catch the guy opening his little book store/head shop while they window shopped the t-shirt outlets.  

Everybody sells t-shirts on Duval St.  One of the favorites goes something like, “I survived the Duval crawl” which I wasn’t sure meant that the pedestrian traffic slowed and moved at a crawl or a person was so drunk they literally crawled wherever they went.  My better reasoning chose the latter.  It was here that Laura told me about the t-shirt guy that came up with the “Liver is Evil – It Must Be Punished” slogan only to have it embellished by another guy to read:  “The Liver is Evil – It Must Be Punished” and made millions on the altered slogan without having to worry about copyright infringement. 

Annette and I hopped aboard one of the trams for a little sight seeing.  Trams are a sore spot to the natives.  They worm around the streets causing traffic to snarl while the intercom speakers echo through the narrow streets of the rows of houses they pass by.  But they are a integral part of the tourism that keeps the city going so it is an uneasy alliance.  The drivers are very well informed and point out not only the architectural anomalies of the houses but some past history of former tenants as well.  One of the houses we pass is Marrero’s Mansion on Fleming St.  We already know the story behind our lodgings so our interests aren’t as acute as the other passengers.  We waved at the people sitting out on the little cabaret style tables.  They didn’t recognize us. 

Our driver tells us about the forming of the Conch Republic and the secession of Key West from the United States back in ’82.  The federal government was causing quite a stir because of placing road blocks at the beginning of the causeway that leads to the Florida Keys.  Pulling people over to search for illegal drugs or Cubans entering or leaving the U.S.A. was detrimental to the tourism that the Keys depended on.  Local Key West officials opted to secede from the union and set up their own republic, the Conch Republic on April 23, 1982.  After a declaration of war and ceremoniously ending a “battle” one minute later, the Republic succumbed to defeat and applied for a billion dollars in federal aid.  Ofcourse, it was all designed to make a point against the tyrannical approach of the federal government.  Shortly thereafter the road blocks were removed and the citizens and tourists were once again allowed to move freely back and forth to the Keys.  Such is the approach to life and politics at the southern most point of the United States.


5 Responses to “shades of Hemingway / Part 2, early the next day”

  1. Emily Says:

    Your writing reminds me of Paul Auster. (that’s a compliment. ..he’s one of my favourite writers) So, I’m dying here. . .did you hear any more typing?? I believe his typewriter of choice was a manual Royal (black, of course)

    Always a pleasure to read your pieces. Hurry up on part three already!

  2. chirchi965 Says:

    awwww…..I wanna know what happened with the type writer thingy…….hurry hurry

  3. babychaos Says:

    Really enjoying this. Check that breakfast! Are you Scottish or something? Just slide in a tattie scone instead of the grits and maybe add a dash of square sausage and you’re there!



  4. chrisfiore5 Says:

    well, cool…

    will post part 3 Saturday night.

    stay tuned.


  5. Cyndi Says:

    How many parts are there to this? When did you go? Did you tell the guy that asked if you’re Scottish that you’re Danish (well, mostly anyway)?

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