Archive for April 28th, 2007

shades of Hemingway / part 9, good thinking and bad ideas

April 28, 2007

Immediately I assume I am in trouble.  I raise my hands up before me, palms facing the Key West policeman.

“Twice in one day,” Officer Jordan is saying, “and only a couple hours apart.”

“I swear I couldn’t have been in there more than a few minutes!”

“Hmm… long enough to get at least one person excited.”  he briefly glances at the bathroom behind me then turns his attention to the table and my research materials.  “What’s with all the textbooks?” 

“Just enjoying a little free time while my friends try and recover.”

Someone in the library does a shhh! and Officer Jordan motions to the front door with his head. 

“Let’s take it outside, shall we?”

“Am I in trouble?”

“Not if we take it outside,” he pauses for effect, “right now!”

With hesitant resignation I head towards the door, Officer Jordan behind me.  As I make it to the front entrance, an elderly woman exits behind me.  I hold the door for her and as Officer Jordan brings up the rear, I dutifully do the same for him.  Out on the front stoop the policeman’s tone changes.

“I see you found yourself a new mode of transportation,” he says looking at my electric car.

“Yes, thanks to your directions.  It’s really alot of fun, sure beats walking.”

“How about your friends?” he does a quick look around then turns back to me,   “Everybody comfortable?”

I wonder if he is testing me and my earlier story.   But one good thing about telling the truth is that you never have to remember anything.

“Actually they are still back at the bed and breakfast trying to recover from last night.  I’m just killing some time here until noon.  Then I’ll go back and see how they are feeling.”

Jordan nods.  “Oh yeah, you said that earlier, didn’t you?”  I volunteer a little more information trying to appeal to his better nature.

“We’re hoping to get off the beaten path a bit, check out some of the local hangouts.  Blend in with the natives.  You know, try some local color.”

“Local color?” he seems amused, “why would you want to do that?”

“Oh, you know, you get tired of being played for a tourist…”  I let my words trail off.

“Hmm… you want locals try the Green Parrot off  Southard and A1A.  All the color you could want.” But then his voice gets low.  “But be careful what you ask for.”

I offer a little chuckle, “Too much of a good thing?”

Officer Jordan walks over to his mountain bike and takes his helmet off of the handle bars.

“It has a bit of a reputation, but what in Key West doesn’t, right?”

“I’ll drink to that!”

Jordan gives me a slightly stern look.

“In moderation, ofcourse!”  I smile innocently.

“Ofcourse,” he replies, straddling his bicycle seat while he buckles his helmet on. “By the way, tell them Jordan sent you.”

“I will, thanks!  Hey, am I cool here?”  I point back at the library.

“… as a cucumber.” 

Figuring I had worn out my welcome at the library anyway, I decide it is best to doing a little more sightseeing on my own.  I wave goodbye to Officer Jordan and he is peddling up the street by the time I reach my little car.  I slide into the drivers seat only to find I have company.

“How’ya doin’, Sport?” I recognize the voice immediately.

It is Hem, I am both startled and happy to see him. 

“Get in a little trouble with Johnny Law?”  He looks out after Officer Jordan who has travelled out of ear shot.

I shrug and grunt a little reply.  

“Hey, you’re not sore about last night are you?  Those wenches can get a lil’ out of hand!” He offers a bit of a chuckle.

Then it dawns on me, my dream encounters with the 3 amigos is real, or as real as meeting an apparition in your sleep can be.

“No, not at all.”  But I am feeling a bit bewildered.  Suddenly I need to catch my breath and hyper ventilate a bit. 

“Comin’ at’cha a bit fast, eh?”  he looks back at me, “all this?”

“Just a bit.” 

Which was an understatement to say the least.  Another deep breath and a slight shudder.  I turned and offered a weak smile.  Knowing the guy sitting next to you has been dead over 45 years is a bit un-nerving and my doubts about spooks begin to wane.  But again my curiosity seems to better my fears.  Hem wasn’t here to frighten me!  I found myself thinking.

“I’ll be alright.” 

“Well, put this here contraption on the road and we’ll pick up where we left off.”  He slaps his knee like it is the rear end of a borrowed mule.  “Have you given any more thought to my offer?  I’d still like to have you go to work for me, weak constitution and all!”  He laughs.

I put the car into gear and eased onto the street.  He is grinning ear to ear, his manner flamboyant and carefree. 

“Actually, I didn’t know how to take it.”  I said, the electric car humming up the street.  “I thought since I dreamed it that it wasn’t for real.”

“Oh, it was for real,” Hem said, “I was dead serious…” and then he laughed again at his little joke.

The car is catching up to Officer Jordan on his bicycle, he moves off to the side and waves us by.  We pass on Jordan’s left, Hem watches as we come alongside.  For a moment we are travelling together down the street.  “Good morning, Officer!” Hem offers cheerfully.  Jordan gives us a solitary finger to the forehead salute and says nothing.  We move past him just as he turns off onto a side street.

“Nice fellow.”  Hem says.  We zip up and down the streets, turning little loop de loops as we make our way out towards the old Key West Cemetery.

“Listen, Sport, it’s like I was sayin’.  It ain’t about obtaining fame, you’ve got to maintain it.  Being famous is a full time job, you’re not careful someone else’ll come along and put you right in the back pages with the obits and want ads.”

“I’m just not sure how I can help you, I mean, I’m flattered…”

“Sport, it’s easier now than ever before! I’ll help you!  Imagine all the possibilities… we could do a reality show on television,  they’re all the rave now… everybody wants to be famous.  With my stories and adventures put in your words, E. M. Hemingway could become a friggin’ renaissance!”

“How would we pull that off? a reality series, I mean?”

“Listen, Sport, people don’t want to see pre-staged survivors, pre-arranged dating dramas or pre-determined boy next door idols anymore.  They want their reality real!  Put people in the circumstances like the ones that I have encountered and then let’s see how they make out.  The best part of drama is facing the unknown.  Those other situations mean nothing, everybody goes home in the end…  snug as a bug.”

Real reality drama?”

“Ever faced down a chargin’ bull in an arena?  How ’bout big game hunting in Africa? I used to hunt Nazi U-boats during the war, now there is somethin’ to live through!”

“But Hem, you can’t expect untrained citizens to hunt U-boats for television!”

We pulled up to the old cemetery and Hem was silent for a moment.

“You know, Sport,” he said wistfully,”I shoulda been buried here.” and with that he was gone.