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Joined: 12 August 2005
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Posted: 08 October 2005 at 12:52am | IP Logged Quote tobycole

I started doing this with hijo's idea in mind. I tried it without gender but I caved when he finds out she has been killed. I needed the clarity.  I changed her from Billie to Dee, and I  realize I haven’t named him.  I still need to  fill in with some blue and yellow and red and brown and flesh and blood, but I figured I would post this much. Comments would be welcomed and calmly received. 




by lwd


  “What do I know about it? Not much; but, what I do know is that it can hurt a body’s soul and it can kill a soul’s body and it can stop the bleeding, and it can make blood flow through a rock. I don’t know much about it; but, the little I do know scares me silly and it scares me breathless and it scares me so bad that the fear leaves me feeling hollow inside.”


“Love? Love scares you so bad, like that?” 


“Nothing but love can lay me low like a dog who knows he has messed inside the house and hears ‘The Master’s’ angry voice.”


“ ‘The Master!’ People only have dogs so they can be a master of something.”


“Yes, Master!”


“You know I am right.”


“You obviously have never been in love.”


“I might be in love now.”


“Let me get you some alcohol for that.”


   And that was the last conversation we ever had.  When I came back from the kitchen with two pint glasses of Shipyard’s Special Brown Ale, I found an empty room.  I put one glass down, and pondered why I was  the sole occupant of the room as I drank the brown ale from the other pint glass.  I dialed  Dee’s cell phone, and I was sent directly to her voice mail.  I was still lacking company when the first glass was empty, and I started sipping the other.

  I was alternately annoyed, amused, scared and confused that she had left without so much as a note or a word. 

As I was scripting and rehearsing what I would say when Dee came back into the apartment,  I happened to  shift in my chair and saw the picture of my face that was leaning against the TV screen.  I walked over and picked it up.  The word “Fraud” was printed neatly across my forehead and “Move out!” was printed on my lip, M O V E on the right lip and O U T ! on the left. 


   "What the hell?"  I said outloud to the picture.  “I’m standing in ba-loser shoes!”  

  I took a long drink of the ale and it occurred to me that I might have started drinking a little early this afternoon.


  “What the hell!”  I said.  I started singing in a strong voice, “Ba Ba Ba Ba Boom.  These familiar shoes is my comfortable blues shoes. They ain’t no blue suede shoes. But, when I get the blues these is my shoes.  No, they  ain’t no blue suede shoes.  They just plain old ba-loser shoes.” 


  I sat down with the picture in my hand and shut up.   I was seriously bummed out. I  realized that there had not been time to get this photo, think about what to print, neatly print it and get out of the apartment while I went back and forth to the kitchen and poured the two drinks.  It took me by surprise like a sucker punch. Boom.  I was TKO’d:  I was standing, but I was totally unable to defend myself. I finished the second Brown Ale and went into the kitchen for another.  The Special Brown Ale was gone from the two sampler twelve packs.  I opened an Old Thumper and  dispensed with the glass and let the ale pour down my throat as if it were water and I was parched.


  I couldn’t run from the knowledge that she had the picture ready to deliver.  I thought of the military’s fondness for acronyms like  meals ready to eat (MRE) and figured they would refer to pictures ready to deliver as PRD’s.   With their fondness for last name first and first name last they might turn a mean spirited picture into PMS.


 “Is the PMS PRD ready, Private?”


  “Yes sir, Major.”


  “Good job.”


 “Thank you, sir.”


“Deployment time?”


“First opportunity, sir.”


“Make sure you HTF.”


“HTF? Sir.”


 “Hurt The Fraud, Private.”


“Yes sir.  Thank you, sir.”




   It was time to leave.  I loaded a large Red Sox gym bag with my foldable clothes, some books, and a half dozen CDs.  I put my dry cleaned shirts, suits, slacks, ties, and sport coats into two carry-on bags.  I lugged it all out to my black nicked and dinged 2000 Nissan Pathfinder SE.  I figured that even if I couldn’t run from the facts, maybe it would be enough just to add some miles to the 86000 on the Pathfinder.   

   I turned my cell phone off as I headed west on the Mass Turnpike.  I figured: east would  splashed  me into the Atlantic Ocean, south would get me below the dreaded Mason Dixon line, and north was Maine followed by Canada. I kept flipping between three channels of the country band of XM. I remembered that the Red Sox were playing in Cleveland. I figued I would  score some tickets in Cleveland and watching the weekend series.


  I had driven into Tired several hours prior, and I had left Punchy pretty recently when I composed a country song in my head.   “I’m going down that old lonesome eight lane freeway of  re-cover-y,” was my working title.  I had long since given up on the respectable blues, and I had let my musical taste go  south, all the way to Nashville.


  “Jack Daniels had finally made Grammy calm

  Just before Poor old Daddy  died in Momma’s arm

  and Little Sister had just loaded up on chew

  in the kitchen of our home, “Graceland Two”

  Big brother’s hound dog Paul mournfully wailed

  just like the time when Daddy and brother had been jailed

  Poor Old Daddy was hardly breathing when he said to me:

 ‘Son, acknowling a problem is the first step to re-cover-y.’


   pulled off the freeway into a Denny’s in Rochester NY.  The pancakes and sausage and coffee and cherry pie with vanilla ice cream tasted so good that I knew, for sure, that even adequate judgment had abandoned me and it was time to get some sleep.


 The Hampton Inn beside the Denny’s had a room, a night manager who didn’t seem to hate me and the promise of a free continental breakfast every morning.  I signed up before the manager found out that I was a homeless fraud.  It was four a.m. and I need sleep.


  I woke up about noon.  I felt pretty good for a man on the run without a plan.  The Red Sox were scheduled to play the Indians at one thirty and I wanted to see the game.  The kid at the front desk suggested Brady’s Sports Bar.  On the way, I checked for messages on my cell.  I had none, which was good because I wasn’t ready to talk.  I changed my message to “Hi.  I’m in a Hampton Inn in Rochester.  Leave a message.”  I shut the phone off.


  “Bass Ale and a Brady Burger well done.”




  “Sox/Indians are playing.”


  “You’re not from around here.”


 “Do you mind?”


“ I’ll put this one on  just for you. I hope you’re a tipper.”




  The Sox blew the game, but not before I had another Bass Ale and  jalapeńo poppers and another Bass Ale and potato skins and a couple of more Bass Ales. 


  “Do you have far to go to get home?”


  “Hampton Inn.  It isn’t too far.  Why?  Am I looking that bad?”


“You look fine.  Why don’t you hang around and have something else to eat and have some coffee.”


“You think I’m drunk!”


“Just being cautious.”


“You’re probably right.  Steak Tips well done.”




  I ate the steak tips and drank some coffee and ended up feeling like somebody at a first aid tent at a Phish concert. 


"Dude, you shouldn’t smoke such a big joint all by    yourself.”


“Irresponsible. I know.”


“No, Dude, selfish.  Let somebody get at that thing.”


  I left and drove back to the Hotel.  I had messages from the Rochester police.


  “I hope you don’t mind that I didn’t tell them you were at Brady’s.”


“No, I am glad you didn’t.”


“I didn’t want the police freaking out anybody who might have placed a bet on some sporting event.  Detective O’Connor insisted that I call him as soon as you get here.  I really can’t mess with him.”


  I called Lt Detective O’Connor from the desk phone.  He came by the Hotel about an hour and a half later.


  “Other than a possible DUI it seems like you have been publicly and harmlessly spending your time while in my town.”


“I am not too sure what is going on.”


“You had an argument with someone who turned up dead.  You…”


“Freaking Christ!  What are you talking about?”


“Dee Yakamoto was found dead.  The victim of a blunt trauma to the head.”


“I’m going to be…”


“You OK?”


I nodded sheepishly and said, “Ya, but I’m not sure about the bedspread.”


“Do you want some water?”


“Give me a minute.”  I went in the bathroom and tossed some water on my face and drank a little.  “I’m OK.”  I said as I walked back into the room.


“Here,”  O’Connor said as he handed me the bedding that he had balled up.


  “Thanks,” I said.  I tossed the heap into the shower tub.


“You were the prime suspect, but it seems pretty clear that you drove here, got some sleep, watched a baseball game and drank some beers.  Doesn’t seem like you had the opportunity.”


  “I had the news broken to me more gently when my goldfish died.”




“Not really your fault.”


“Do they have any ideas?”


“Not since I called them and cleared you as a suspect.”   


“Thanks.  I think”


“Are you going to be OK?”


Dee died thinking I was a fraud.”


“Are you?”




“Where you?”


“Are you a couple counselor?”


“No, but why all of a sudden are you considered a fraud where once you were a hero?”


 “I don’t get it either.”


“I don’t get the evil that allows someone to kill.”


“And, you’re the law enforcement professional.”


“I get philosophical on my days off.”


“But, you are here and working.”


“I was going to buy a car today but I got drafted to help.”


“So you saved some money.”


“No.  It was already ordered.  I was going to pay for it.  I’ll do it tomorrow.”


“What did you buy?”


“Honda S2000”


“Rear wheel drive roadster for upstate NY winters.  Sounds like fun.”



“I clear you of murder and you start right in giving me sh*t.  Nice.”


“It’s a great car.  Fun to drive. I just can’t control my mouth.  What color?”


“You’re just sucking up now.  Are you going to stay the night before you go back?”


“I think so.”


“Good move.  And, uh, I’m sorry for your loss.”


“Thanks.  Black or yellow?”


“Black.  The yellow sucks.”


“It grows on you, but the black is the right color.”


“Good luck.”












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Joined: 14 August 2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 547
Posted: 08 October 2005 at 4:50pm | IP Logged Quote hijo

Toby: I like it, but then it felt... careful.

I get a sense of hurt, of insult, then of "oh, well, she thought I was a fraud ... I wonder why?"

I don't get a true sense of the loss of someone you love whom you know you'll never, ever see again except in dreams and whom you know you'll never ever hear again except in recordings or in your waking dreams.

I don't get a sense of when you see her hair on someone from the back years later and are certain it's her even though you're in another city or another part of the world and when she turns around and you realize how impossible it was and then you remember why.

A really good movie critic friend once told me he thought divorce was worse than the death of a spouse, because with divorce, there's always the chance you'll wind up seeing her again.

I loved the surprise, the potential suspicion, etc but then it turned into something - mundane. Just my view, but I think if you cut out the car discussion and stick to the "cleared you of a murder" because you're obviously the prime suspect, it's closer.

Who was it that wrote that short story about the little girl wanting her mommy, that I thought should end "me too"? That was one hell of a powerful story of loss.

I'm still (in my head) working out the idea I suggested. I think it takes more careful description of love - still acknowledging that gender may be less involved than emotional attachment - and that's what makes the loss so devastating. But we'll see.

Nice try, and thanks for taking up the challenge.
Still think the concept needs a novel more than a short story - so I'm still looking forward to seeing a "Toby Cole novel."

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Joined: 01 October 2003
Online Status: Online
Posts: 105
Posted: 11 October 2005 at 12:06am | IP Logged Quote tobycole

Thank you for the comments.  It is funny, I knew I was being self-indulgent by leaving some of what you called mandane in there.  Thanks again.

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