Third place in the Hemingway Rules Contest goes to M.N. Warner for the entry, Hemingway Begins Anew. – ML
Hemingway Begins Anew ~ 1914
I again searched for the doctor’s son. The boy had a suspicious way of disappearing at night. His father was none too happy, and I was appointed to rescue Ernest.
Fathers anguish over their children’s futures, especially the future of such a young man. Unless my plan succeeded, he would flit through life, humming amusing melodies and performing whimsical pieces at recitals.
My worst fears were realized when I found the lad leaning against a lamp post. With ruffled shirt tucked neatly into shiny toreador pants, he performed street music. He sang falsetto.
I pushed aside the coin-tossers and rescued Ernie from his caterwaulers.
"Enough of this nonsense!" I dragged him away. He did not struggle but allowed me to haul him to the end of the street.
I flung him through the open door of Harry’s Bar. Ernie’s eyes widened in horror.
"You can’t do this, N’Cola!" he whimpered. "I’m too young for a bar! Whatever are you thinking?"
"Don’t be a damned bloody young fool!" I flung him into a seat at the nearest available table. "No man’s ever too young or too old for Harry’s Bar. It’s time someone took the bull by the horns and made a man of you."
Ernie stared mutely, aghast at my words. He watched the tray of drinks arrive and cowered.
"Get a grip, m’boy." I lined up the beers and shot glasses. "I will talk. You will drink and listen. Com-pren-do?"
Apparently so. He sucked a breath, held it and choked down the first swallow.
By the end of his second chaser, the lad seemed more confident.
I didn’t mince words. "Here’s what you’ll do, boy. No choices."
Wide-eyed and attentive, he nodded.
"First, lose the silk and the music," I said. "Then tie on the gloves of life. Look your opponent right in the eye and swing. Grow facial hair, lad. The ladies will love it…Oh, and drive a big vehicle. The bigger the better."
His sigh bordered on ecstasy. "An ambulance?"
"Get serious, Ernie." I stacked the shot glasses. "Travel. To Kansas City, to Italy, to Africa. Live. Chase stories, fight bulls, shoot an oryx…be a man.” I paused to push the alcohol beyond his reach.
“This is your chance, Champ. It’s your generation. Don’t be lost…be found.” I shook my finger at him. “Don’t end up an old man adrift in a murky sea. Understand?"
Ernie staggered to his feet, excited. "Yes. I do."
He blinked amd leaned closer. In a manly whisper he asked two questions revealing the deep intellectual and tempestuous hunger within his evolving soul.
"Help me, N’Cola. Give me honest answers, I beg you.” The lad tugged at my sleeve and gulped. "What is an oryx…and why should I shoot it?"
Young Ernest Hemingway had a difficult journey ahead. I eyed the remaining liquor with longing.