Archive for May 2nd, 2007

shades of Hemingway / part 10, trashed and treasures

May 2, 2007

I left the cemetery and headed back towards the bed and breakfast, my brief conversation with Hem and the events of the past 24 hours rolling through my head.  From what I already knew and had just read about Ernest Hemingway, he was permanently ingrained in American folklore, a hero… an icon.  Nothing could possibly add to his stellar accomplishments, especially no reality T.V. series.  I arrived back feeling glum, wishing I hadn’t “found” that shoehorn.  But when I pulled up front Keith was on the veranda watching the world go by and seeing my good friend made my misgivings quickly retreat into the background.

Keith was reading the local paper and feeling his cheerful self again.  He informed me that the illness he and Laura had been feeling subsided about mid-morning.  Annette, too, was back to normal and they were all anxious to get out of the house for awhile.  The girls were together in Keith and Laura’s room getting ready to join us on the veranda.  My timing had been perfect.  So with those few minutes alone with Keith I figured I’d let my friend in on what I had been going through since our visit to Hemingway’s Estate.  But I would leave out all the incriminating, far-fetched or unbelievable parts.  

Keith is also a writer and understands the struggle we contend with all too well.  If he had the chance to become a famous author, how would he react?  If the opportunity arose to use someone else’s ideas and then present them as his own, would it bother him?  Would he risk involvement in a project if it meant compromising his principles,  or worse yet, being unscrupulous?     …and what if nobody could possibly find out?

He would go for it!  …naturally. 

I began to wonder if I was being too noble.  What would be the harm in capitalizing on Hem’s idea?  After all, it was his desire to be “front page news,” not mine.  I was merely carrying out his wishes and reaching my own aspirations as well.  I could always return to my misguided morality later…

The girls came out as I was pondering this, all excited to see our electric chariot which meant no more walking for us.  We piled in and drove down the street, careening around cars and pedestrians like we on an Olympic slalom course.  I navigated the narrow streets as a seasoned veteran.  We sped past the Key West Cemetery, managed to shoot the loop at the southernmost point and the White Street Pier at a top speed of about 28 miles per hour.  When we finally decided it was time to get some lunch, I reminded everybody that we were wanting to visit some local hangout and suggested the Green Parrot.  With the emphasis on “local” patrons the vote was in and it was unanimous.  We turned back and found the corner bar with the “reputation” Officer Jordan spoke of.  We were not to be disappointed.  

The Green Parrot enjoys a seedy atmosphere with a long bar that greets you off to your left as soon as you stumble in from the street.  It also has several pool tables as well as a modest stage for live entertainment.  Cargo netting, lanterns, life preservers and all things nautical adorn the walls.  Remnants of rowing oars, grappling hooks, mooring lines and pilings,  a ships figurehead composed of the bust of a nude with flowing blonde hair grace a far corner.  Every bar stool has a body perched upon it and it seems there are dozens of people watching us as we wander in all wide eyed and innocent, but only for a moment.  Judging we are harmless everyone turns back to their beer, their broads or their boredom.  Keith suggests I get us some drinks and a menu while they pick out a pool table so I belly up to the bar and wait to get noticed. 

A friendly, middle aged woman with big boobs, a skimpy halter top and some serious tatoos takes my order for drinks and points to the menu board.  We had tried to make a good first impression but everyone there knew… we were tourists.  Thinking we had committed a serious faux pas,  I tried to compensate by announcing Officer Jordan told us about this place and said we’d have a good time.  The bar maid said she had heard of Jordan but since she was new to the area she had never met him.  She smiled apologetically and offered our drinks on a tray.  I went back to the pool table feeling a bit dejected but happy to be back with my friends again.  I didn’t think much more about it while we played some pool but it wasn’t too long until a couple of men approached and watched us for awhile.

I thought they were more interested in our women than the pool game and felt a little uncomfortable until one of them asked how I knew Jordan.  When I said I had met him that morning at the M&M Laundry and then later at the public library the other one laughed and pulled the first one away.  They walked back to the bar and joined a third man who was watching us contentedly.  After a brief exchange of words, he laughed, too, but he continued watching us for awhile longer. 

Ofcourse, Keith, Laura and Annette wanted to know who Officer Jordan was.  While leaving out the part about Ring Lardner, Jr., the vaudeville skeletons and the exploding soap boxes I explained how I’d fallen asleep at the laundromat (I had to tell about the puke in the blanket, much to Annette’s chagrin) and someone must have called the police assuming I was drunk.  Then I told them how later I’d been to the library and some old fart thought I’d been in the bathroom too long and must have called the cops.  This guy, Jordan was the patrolman who showed up on both occasions.  We all agreed that I had been very lucky to have gotten off with a warning.  Since we were feeling our alcohol and the inhibitions from earlier had diminished considerably we drank a loud, boisterous toast to Officer Jordan,  which once again garnished the attention of the three men at the bar.  I saw the gazer shake his head and they all three laughed again, turned around and ignored us for the rest of our stay.

We managed to eat some bar food and throw back a few more beers.  Nobody in our group actually played pool, but it was a pleasant diversion for a couple of hours.  After the local color lost it’s allure we decided it was time to check out Mel Fisher’s Museum.  We were far from being inebriated, just primed for a good time and ready to enjoy our last night in Key West.  We left feeling much more akin to the joint than when we had first arrived and I even waved good-bye to the three men who thought my meeting up with Officer Jordan was so funny.  They watched us leave but didn’t bother to wave back.

 Mel Fisher is this treasure hunter who struck gold with his search for shipwrecks off the coast of Key West.  The amazing thing about his discovery was not the millions of dollars it was worth, (which was substantial) but the tenacity of the man searching for it.  Forget about the things you see in the movies, hunting for lost treasure takes long, hard work.  I had heard about Mel’s struggles, now we were about to visit the museum dedicated to his success.

… and I would learn that all that glitters is not gold.