shades of Hemingway / Part 7, come saturday morning

To really appreciate one of Key West’s finest you have to see him standing right in front of you just after you’ve groggily waken up from too little sleep and too much alcohol.  (not that I am a heavy drinker because I’m not, except when I’m on vacation and only then did I have two glasses of wine… honest)   Police officers dress in blue khaki shorts and white polo shirts, but their side arm is a standard issue 9mm Glock.  I imagine the semi-tropics and island atmosphere lend to the casual image, but the cop in front of me was being all business.  Since I was still sitting in that steel folding chair with Britney Spears face down on my lap his Glock was right at eye level.  I looked up and under his KWPD badge was his name tag:  JORDAN.  He appeared to be a man that smiled easily and I think he would have laughed at my predicament right then if not for the “official” look he had to wear.  He asked me for identification and I fidgeted in my seat trying to reach back in my wallet to produce it. 

After I became fully awake (which took all of 2 seconds) I started to explain what had happened the night before starting with the resturaunt with no name and the buffet from Hell, then the Hogs Breath Saloon (only two glasses of wine, mind you) and ending up at Marrero’s Mansion with Annette’s head about to start spinning around while I’m on the chair (I left out the shrieking part) and how I’d taken a pink taxi to M&M’s to wash the puke from our blanket because Annette couldn’t face the maid in the morning.  Seemingly unconcerned about Britney or the blanket he asked me if I was enjoying my stay at the infamous bed and breakfast.  I said that we were except for the obnoxious rooster in the morning (but I wasn’t being judgemental) as  I produced my identification but he finally smiled and waved it off.

“Nobody could make up a story like that,” Officer Jordan said, “besides… the laundromat appears to still be in one piece.” 

And it was, everything that had been blown to bits, sprayed with machine gun fire or burned beyond recognition seemed to have been restored with my awakening from that strange dream.  There were no soldiers, no skeletons, no top hats and canes, no boxes of soap or fabric softener on the floor, just other patrons doing their shameful best to attend to their own dirty laundry while Sandy’s workers were getting ready to open for business.

I stood up and went to my washing machine and opened the lid.  The bobbing, bubbling heads were gone and only the bed linen remained, thrown against the porcelain sides by the Maytag’s spin dry inertia.  I pulled the blanket from the agitator’s core, unraveling it like spun cotton candy.  I turned to show the policeman the evidence I had described and he gave me a thumbs up.

“Hey…” I said to my new found friend, “where can I rent one of those spiffy electric cars?”  I had decided that this day Keith, Laura, Annette and I would travel outside the boundaries of foot traffic.

Officer Jordan motioned with his head, “Back where you came in on the ferry is the closest place, but they are all over.”   

I went to throw the blanket into a nearby dryer.  Hoping to get an offer for a ride I asked over my shoulder, “Is that within walking distance?”  but didn’t get an answer.  I fished some change out of my pocket, inserted it in the coin slot then set the dryer into motion.

  “Say… do you think I could get a ride?” 

I turned around but Officer Jordan was already off talking to one of the locals, a pirate captain’s first mate looking character that even had a small parrot propped on his shoulder.  I looked over at the workers preparing the restaurant for business and caught a few sideways glances directed at me like I was doing something unnatural.  But that is the thing with doing your laundry in public, it always makes you feel self-conscience.  Officer Jordan had what looked like a mountain bike and was putting on a riding helmet.  With a turn, a smile and a finger salute to the forehead he was off.  So there wasn’t going to be a ride for me.  I walked back to my chair, sat down and read about Britney Spears until the dryer stopped.

It actually wasn’t that far of a walk from M&M’s Laundry to where the Key West Express docked.  I enjoyed the early morning air and sunshine as I passed through the old neighborhood towards the gulf waters.  Most of what I was looking at was off the beaten path and hardly resembled the touristy section of Duval St. and beyond.  I welcomed the walk, allowing myself to enjoy my surroundings while planning out the day in my mind.  We had seen these 4 seater electric cars buzzin’ all around for the past two days and I was certain we all needed a break from walking so that was first on the agenda.  Next I’d drive back, rally the troops and scrounge up some breakfast.  Then we’d check out Mel Fisher’s Museum, perhaps head out to the southernmost point and shoot the loop.

When I got to the Seaport I found the sign for the electric car guy.  It was one of those open for business signs that goes something like: “Hours 8-4:30, sometimes 9-5 or occasionally 10-6 except when we come in after lunch… which usually means we are here around 1 and work ’til dark unless we come in late then most of the time we’ll split the difference and go home early”  I never find these things humorous but today I chuckle politely because there IS someone there and he seems to know his stuff.  After filling out all the necessary paper work and receiving a brief bit of instruction I joined some of tourism’s elite;  I had wheels!  I couldn’t wait to pick up the gang and chart new territories on this island paradise.

I buzzed back to the bed and breakfast expecting to find everybody patiently waiting for me on the front porch.  I imagined them eating fruit ‘n’ granola and wondering where the heck I was.  But when I got there no familiar faces greeted me.  Puzzled, I went and knocked on Keith and Laura’s door.  After a few moments Keith appeared unshaven and woozy.  He started to explain that he and Laura must have gotten ahold of some bad oysters and had to lay low for at least the morning.  Then I told him about Annette waking in the middle of the night and we decided we’d meet back around noon to see how we all felt.  I tip toed up the stairs to check in on Annette and found she was still sleeping.  I had the entire morning to myself!

Our bed and breakfast has this honor system for it’s guests.  If you want a drink, say soda pop or beer, they have a refrigerator out by the pool.  There you help yourself; write down your room number, the type of drink and how many you took.  They in turn apply the cost to the running tab on your room and then you settled up upon checkout.  This all seemed very civilized to me so I went out by the pool and helped myself to a bottled water and dutifully filled out the required information.  It wasn’t until I was all finished and went to leave that I realized someone was watching me. 

 It was my first experience at a clothing optional pool and I wasn’t used to seeing the full frontal view of a nude man sunbathing himself on a lounger.  His companion was lying in a lounger next to him with pale butt cheeks proudly displayed for God and everybody to see.  The man facing me smiled.  I curtly nodded back and offered a subdued ‘good mornin’ ‘ and tried not to act like it was my first time at a clothing optional pool.  But for the first time I felt out of place in Key West.  I walked away slowly, trying not to act embarrassed but at the same time I didn’t want to appear like I was taking a lingering look at his genitals.  I smiled to myself imagining it would be a bad place for a sunburn and went off back inside.  

I stood out on the front steps and watched some baby chicks following their mother down the sidewalk, their little ‘peep peep peeps’  being cried out in unison.  I took a drink of my bottled water and felt a bit frustrated. So here I was with some time on my hands.  I had this amazing electric car at my beckoning call and couldn’t figure out where I wanted to go. I didn’t want to do anything that I couldn’t wait and do with the rest of the group so I pondered that a moment. 

There was one place I could go to that the others wouldn’t feel left out over.  Actually it never dawned on me until that moment but it made perfect sense to go there and once I thought of it (aside from me going out and having breakfast) it became a must.  Everything I had been exposed to since I left Hemingway’s Estate needed some clarifying and there was only one place I could think of that might help me get some answers.  A haven of sorts, a refuge… somewhere I could put all the pieces together and actually enjoy doing it.

I had to go to the public library. 


2 Responses to “shades of Hemingway / Part 7, come saturday morning”

  1. thematicallyconsistant Says:

    Very nice.

  2. chirchi965 Says:

    lol…..good decision…or is it wise…blah.

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