Shades of Hemingway / Medium Exposure Part 8, in the clutches of anarchy

*Author’s note:  This is part 8 of 13, to better understand the contents it is suggested that you scroll back to the Prelude.


Immediately the needle from a syringe plunged into my arm as my head was covered with a hood.  I felt movement from the van and heard voices, but they were muffled… speaking Spanish, far away from me.  I was on the floor, someone had a knee in my back pinning me face down.  There was no air conditioning.  I could smell sweat and alcohol, cigarette smoke and take out food.  We were picking up speed and turning corners, it was hard for me to breathe with the hood over my face.  I fought to stay awake as terror gripped my body.  Manolo was going to kill me, I was certain.  They were only driving around to find a place to dump my body.  Oddly enough, as I began to drift out of consciousness… I thought of Annette.

Then Hem was sitting at his desk and I was there across from him.  His feet were propped up, he was wearing argyle socks without shoes.  He pitched a book in front of me, a copy of Men Without Women… a collection of his earlier short stories.

“Nice socks.”  I volunteered, though I was not particularly interested in the style.

“It’s funny you should mention socks, Sport.  I was just thinking I would like to have a new pair of socks, one for each day of the year!”

I thought that an odd request but I bit on it.  “Why?” I asked, not realizing we were headed for one of those cerebral conversations that I would one day reflect back on with wonder… (what the heck were we talkin’ about?)

Hem smiled, looking up at the ceiling, knowing he had piqued my curiosity and spawned this debate.

“That way I could know the feeling of wearing a new pair of socks every day for a full year!”

I pondered that briefly, seeking to match wits while searching for a rebuttal.

“Yeah, but after a while it would get to feeling old.”

“How could it?” Hem retorted, “They would always be new socks.  Every day a new pair of socks!”

“Yeah, but after a while they would start to feel the same.”

Hem was grinning ear to ear but still did not waiver.  “You know the way a new pair of socks feel the first time you put them on before you wash them?  That’s what I mean… Every single day of the year a new pair of socks.  You’d have the feeling of wearing a new pair of socks each time you put on a pair.”

“Yeah, I get it… but I’m saying it would start to feel old after a while because it is the same feeling over and over again.  They would no longer feel new to you, because you’d get used to it.”

“That’s the feeling I’m talking about, wearing new socks every day.  How could new socks not feel like new socks?”

“BECAUSE THEY WOULD START TO FEEL OLD!  You’d get used to the feeling each time you put them on.  After a while the feeling of a new pair of socks would get old because it no longer feels different!  Every day, day in and day out… a new pair of socks.  Your feet would become accustomed to wearing them, there would be nothing new about them.  It would be like driving the same new car every day, it would be a new car but it would be the same make, year and model as the day before and it will be the same make, year and model tomorrow and the next day and the next… eventually it would feel the same.”

“But it’s still a new car…”

“Yes.” I’m exasperated by now.  “You’re right, it’d still be a new car…”

“And it’s always going to feel like a new car…”

“Yes… it would always feel like the same new car… not a different feeling but the same feeling of a new car every day of the year.”

“That’s my point… that’s the feeling I’d like to have every day for a year with wearing a new pair of socks.”

We were in the midst of a paradox and Hem was relishing the fact that he had me frustrated to the point of throwing my hands up and acquiescing.  He seemed satisfied with himself and abruptly changed the subject.

“So… you’re enjoying the single life, eh, Sport?”  He was obviously amused at the setting and my predicament.

“Not hardly.” I replied, watching his big toe twitching.  We were in his study back at the Estate.  It was early morning, the light barely filtering through the door with the wrought iron gate.

“Oh no?  And what about that little scene in the courthouse?  Looks like you’re making up for lost time.”

I picked up the book and looked at it, the irony spread over it’s cover.  Men Without Women, the silhouette of a bull in an orange and yellow dust jacket.  “What’s this all about?”

“The book?  Just a collection of my earlier work.  Publishers, you know… write a successful novel and they want to print all you got, looking to cash in.”

“No, not the book,” I set it back on his desk, “this abduction… my kidnapping.  They’re going to kill me, I suppose?”

Hem drops his feet and sits up straight then looks me directly in the eye.

“Know this, Sport.  Nothing’s as you suppose it is…”

I awoke still on the floor.  The hood was off my head, the van was hot and empty except for me.  I sat up and looked around.  They had left me parked by some mangroves near the water.  I imagined I was being set up, that if I tried the door it would blow up and kill me, or have some poison on the handle that when touched would instantly put me in the Big Sleep.  I looked out over the front seats and through the windshield.  In that moment a person walked up from the driver’s side and continued on until he was in the middle of my view of the gulf waters.  He raised his arm to summon me, beckoning me to come out and follow him.  Relief swept through my groggy state of mind, it was Ring Lardner, Jr. 

Cautiously I opened the sliding door and stepped outside, it was dusk.  The site was abandoned.  I looked to the front of the van where I had just seen Ring, but he had vanished with the shoreline.  Where I had been left was right off Highway A1A.  I stood for a moment trying to decide what to do next.  I looked towards the west where the sun had just set moments before I awoke, trying to get my bearings.  I was still in the Florida Keys, I decided.  I walked south, confused about what had happened and why.  One thing was sure, my satchel was gone and I had missed the Express back to Ft. Myers.  I reached back in my pocket and was relieved to discover my wallet was still there.  I pulled it out and examined it’s contents.  Everything seemed to be intact.  I hadn’t been robbed, abused or killed, just set off my original course and delayed by a day.

Several cars passed me as I walked on the crushed shell shoulder of the highway.  I tried to flag down the first two cars but they made large arcs away to avoid me as they went by.  I decided to change tactics and just try hitchhiking.  It was getting dark and I was afraid I would have to walk back to civilization.  I even imagined my abductors returning.  Perhaps Manolo realized that the guy that was supposed to put a bullet in my head thought the other guy did it and they got halfway back only to figure out that neither of them had done the deed.  I imagined that Manolo was the ring leader and I figured now he was pissed.  I didn’t know if I should hide and wait for morning or head back north away from danger.  I walked faster.

Just as all vestiges of daylight ebbed into the horizon another car came along and began to pull over as it approached my outstretched thumb.  It was a modest, late model sedan.  At first I was happy to gain access to a ride and possibly a sympathetic ear to my plight.  But then as I walked towards the car I felt trapped, exposed… left out in the open.  Why would someone begin to pull over before they were sure of what I looked like?  I stopped and waited, the car a good ten yards before me.  Finally the driver’s side door opened, a woman stepped out and called to me.

“Well?  Are you going to get in or what?”

I stepped a few feet closer and recognized the face.  It was Rachel…


2 Responses to “Shades of Hemingway / Medium Exposure Part 8, in the clutches of anarchy”

  1. Your Number One Fan Says:

    This was great….the scene between Hemingway & “you”, talking about socks, reminds me of something we’d see in an episode of Seinfeld….very funny. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the next installment 🙂

  2. chrisfiore5 Says:

    thank you, #1 fan…

    I appreciate your candor and moniker… grab hold of yourself, I’d hate to have you fall off.

    perhaps you’ll check back Wednesday…

    until then, much peace my friend…


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