Shades of Hemingway / Medium Exposure Part 1, revisited by Hem

“Did you really think I was going to let you end it that way?”

I looked at Hem sitting on the barstool; his legs crossed, kicking one foot up and down, looking impatient.

“Leave what end what way?”

Hem smiled but did not look at me.  He blew a smoke ring with his cigar then threaded it midair with a slight poke of the tip.

“C’mon, Sport!  You know damn well what I’m talkin’ about!  Your little claim to fame, the story you wrote about Key West and runnin’ into yours truly!”  He pointed a thumb back at himself and shook his head, blew more smoke down towards the floor then turned to face me.

“Oh that!” I laughed, “I thought you would appreciate the way it ended.  I told it just like it happened,  … left nothing out.”

The phantom bartender is wiping out a glass with a towel, his face hidden in shadow.  Over in a corner the 3 ladies of the evening are watching us and giggling.  Hem’s face is solemn.

“You left out the best part, the whole reason we came together in the first place.”

“Reason?  We met by accident!  I was in your study… you caught me taking your shoehorn.  Not much else happening there.”

Hem leaned closer, his face looming large in front of me.

“And you think that is all there is to it?”

“Oh yeah, I almost forgot!  I’m the Devil… I disregarded your resurgence on the literary scene.  I wouldn’t compromise Papa’s integrity for the sake of making a buck!  No reality T.V. series… no ghostwriting and, Gee! no Hemingway renaissance!” 

Hem sat back and blankly looked at me for a moment.  Then he slowly smiled which turned into a sly, mischievous grin that quickly morphed into a facial eruption of whooping, coughing and unbridled laughter.

“Oh THAT!”  Mimicking my words he wheezed trying to contain himself and stifle another barrage of guffaws.  “That was merely a test, my boy… an inquiry, a bit of character referencing and refinement… nothing more.”

“A test?  Character referencing and refinement?  I don’t understand.”

“Well then, we don’t know everything, do we?”

Hem relit his cigar, puffing is cheeks like a billows, making the fire dance at the stogie’s blunt end.  He casually fans the flame in the air and then tosses the smouldering match into a nearby ashtray.

“Let me put it to ya this way.  You see, Sport… there’s a bit of a risk involved when a guy like me makes contact with the living.  Gotta make sure of one’s motives… are they pure of heart?  Will they seek their own selfish ambitions? …and so forth.  You passed with flying colors, though the others had their doubts.”

“Others?”

Hem continued gathering his composure, brushing a cigar ash off of his chest.

“Yes… others, my alter egos… the other parts that add up to the total sum of me.”

“You mean Ring, Jr. and Papa?”

“Those very ones… and perhaps, one other.”

“Who else is there?”

“Why, your friend… Officer Jordan.  He had to check you out for himself, didn’t he?”

“I don’t understand what this is leading up to.  I turned you down, remember?  You approached me with this scheme to become rich and famous but I wouldn’t buy into it. This Robert Jordan character has nothing to do with me or my meeting you or my story or… anything!”

As if on cue the 3 derelict divas approach us, but they clamor for Hem’s affections, shunning me.  Hem welcomes them with open arms and soothing words of encouragment, ignoring my statement for the moment.  I look around Sloppy Joe’s bar but it is dark and deserted, like after the final curtain of an off Broadway play.  I stood and stepped back, gazing up at the giant portrait of a black man in boxing gloves that is proudly displayed above the bar.  Hem playfully slaps one of the whore’s hands and I react to the sound, then begin watching them coo and cuddle. 

“Let me get this straight.  You say all that talk about me writing for you and making the world remember you and refreshing the name of Hemingway was just a ruse?”

Hem is now more interested in the women, he doesn’t bother to address me directly but is smiling and encouraging them.  “In a manner of speaking, yes.  Jordan needs you now, more than we do.”

“I know nothing about Officer Jordan other than he was killed in the line of duty.”

“And that is precisely the point.  Jordan needs to have his killer brought to justice.”

Now it begins to sink in.

“Wait a minute, you want me to find who ever is responsible for Jordan’s death?  I’m no detective!”  

Hem abruptly dimisses the women who in turn look at me with dejected contempt.  He reaches for his shot glass, downs it’s contents with a single gulp then returns it in favor of a tall beer chaser, which he thirstily swigs until it is half empty.  The phantom bartender instantly appears to refill the shot glass and replenish the beer.  Hem pauses for a moment, fingers the little condensation ring formed by the beer glass then again faces me. 

“You don’t understand, Sport.  We don’t want you to  find Jordan’s killer, we want you to expose Jordan’s killer.” 

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3 Responses to “Shades of Hemingway / Medium Exposure Part 1, revisited by Hem”

  1. Your Number One Fan Says:

    I’m on the edge of my seat….this is a great twist! I can’t wait til Wednesday!
    me2 🙂

  2. damewiggy Says:

    hats off, very enthusiastic.

    looking forward to more.

  3. The Poetman Award #2 « 1 One Poet 4 Man Says:

    […] Chris has written two different series of post. The first series had 13 installments and was about Hemingway. Here is where the chance came in…he continued the series for several months with almost no […]

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