Hemingway Would Know

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He woke up soaked in his own sweat. No matter how long he lived in Miami, no matter how hot it got in the summertime, he still liked to sleep with the comforter over him.

The air conditioner was broken again. He put one foot out of bed and an idea struck him -- cockroaches. There might be cockroaches wandering the floor or even on his bed. They had had an infestation of them lately and a few nights ago, out of sheer boredom he had been picking them off, one-by-one, with his beebee gun.

He got up quickly without noticing the details of his bedroom. He tried not to see anything that might scare him away from falling asleep in the same place later that night.

It must have been late in the morning. 9:30 maybe. How long had he been up writing the night before? Pages had filled up in his notebook, but were they any good? More space operas and vampire stories -- sell one and it's five-hundred dollars, he told himself. None had sold yet. Still in high school, go easy on yourself, he whispered in his mind.

He walked down the hall and saw his dad asleep on the couch. His dad's roommates had already left the house. They had work. His dad didn't. Hadn't had work for a while. Not that summer. That summer was bad for working stiffs.

He was still sweating. Miami heat. The TV was on. Something, something traffic.

He took a shower, but he knew that he'd sweat all that water out soon enough. When he finished his shower, his dad was still on the couch. Still asleep.

There were old paperbacks in his room, waiting to be read. Ten of them, all picked up recently from the local thrift store to read over the summer. He was half-way through another Hemingway, this one set in the Keys. He filled his backpack with the things he would need.

He was trying to finish before his dad woke up. Nothing to talk about. He put in his backpack a notebook, his half-finished paperback, some pencils and pens. He remembered to take his wallet. He didn't need to take a key. The backdoor to their yard was always open, strangely.

A strange house in an upscale Miami neighborhood where construction workers lived. A place for the upwardly mobile. Their house -- an enclave of cockroaches and the downwardly mobile. Hemingway would know how to write this, he thinks.

He looked over at his dad. His mouth was ever so slightly open. His hair curled along his forehead. He was thin and gentle. He was the fisherman in The Old Man and the Sea, only a decade younger. But like that old man, he had prematurely aged.

The young boy waited for a moment with his backpack. He was starting to sweat again.

He would go out and see the world outside Pinecrest. He would go to the abandoned golf course and look at fish and scribble in his notebook. He would go to the Falls shopping mall and explore the bookstore. He would watch those little commercial waterfalls and try to image them as something big and natural.

But for the moment, he looked at his dad and dreamt. In the land of Hemingway -- two hour's drive from Hemingway's house and Hemingway's adventures -- he wished for a moment that he could see with Hemingway's eyes and write with Hemingway's brilliance. But more than that, he wished he could get one, just one of his lousy space operas or vampire stories to sell. 

Five-hundred dollars could finance a lot of adventures. 

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