International Writers Magazine: Ghost Writer
back at me from behind a confusion of old mattresses, throw pillows
and bed frames, an old wood framed mirror. It had clearly once
been attached to a bureau but now sat orphaned in obscurity in
the back corner of the Goodwill in Chehalis, Washington. End to
end it was about three by four feet, weighed at least fifty pounds
and was just what I needed to fill in the blank space on the wall
of the rear bedroom (aka my office).
The wall my girlfriend
kept pestering me to mirror so as to give the small room a "sense
of more space". As if anyone would be fooled by a trick of mirrors
into thinking the room larger. Even a near-sighted cat could figure
out that it was an illusion but the price was right so for twelve bucks
I asked the "backroom man", Julio, to help me with it to my
"Karamba!" Muttered Julio as we lifted it down from the loading
dock and onto the rear ramp of my mini-van. "I be glad to see this
go." He said in a broken accent.
"Ha, whys that?"
"This mirror es mala suerte. How you say? Jincs?"
"Si, es jinxee."
"Well ever since the man bring dis here from his shop we have mucho
"Si. Oh you think me loco but in my country we have many of dis
tings. Fantasmas, diablos, chupacabras. It is well known to us."
"What sort of problems?"
"Tings moving, heavy tings too like furniture and crates. Lights
that go on and off by themselves, doors unlocked, racks turned over.
Every morning we have to clean up dee mess and every morning we find
dees mirror in the corner behind the mattresses like it was hiding.
Ees suppose to be up in the front window because it is a collectors
"Collectors item?" Jack knew the mirror was at least sixty
years old or more but certainly no collectors item.
"Si, eet belong to some famous writer. I do not know name."
Famous writer? I was really intrigued now. As a small-time writer my
curiosity was piqued.
"Who did you say donated this?"
"Mr. Burgess from dee pawn shop down the street, the Ace of Diamonds
Trades and Pawn."
"Thanks Julio" I said as I handed the worker two bucks for
his trouble and jumped into my van for the quick trip to the Ace of
I found Mr. Burgess
behind the counter, the display case an assortment of old watches, jewelry
and guns. Hanging from the ceiling was every type of guitar known to
man and the walls were covered with stereos, clothes, horns, hats, tools
and TVs. In one corner was a section devoted to heavier furniture
like bureaus. There was even an old pinball machine, a nickel to play.
"Hi. You Mr. Burgess?" Burgess was an old cager dressed in
overalls, he looked like a farmer, which was not surprising as so many
in this part of the state did. Been in the pawn and antique business
for over sixty years they say. He was officially retired but couldnt
stand sitting around at home so had opened up this shop about eight
years before. He didnt really care whether he made money so was
therefore generous with both his time and his prices.
"Who wants to know young fella?"
"Oh sorry. I just bought a mirror from the Goodwill and they said
that you knew something about it. Just a second Ill go out to
the car to get it."
"No! You neednt do that! I know which mirror you mean. You
got time for a story?"
I nodded that I did as Burgess motioned me over to an antique divan
displayed on the floor. He drew up a seat in an old rocker.
"That mirror came from a bureau set once owned by Ernest Hemingway.
Got it on a trip to Ketcham, Idaho a few years back. Picked it up for
a hundred, sold it for five (hundred)."
"Someone gave you five hundred dollars for an old dresser that
was allegedly owned by Hemingway?"
"Not allegedly. I got proof. Take a look at that picture frame
on the night stand beside you."
My attention was drawn to where he was nodding and there was a framed,
autographed photo of Ernest Hemingway sitting in a rocker in what was
obviously a log cabin. He appeared to be about sixty years old, the
age at his death.
"Take a close look at the bureau in the background."
Indeed there was a strong resemblance to that mirror and mine right
down to the five lathe-turned cosmetic dowels.
"Yeah I suppose they could be the same but there may have been
many of these styles produced
" Before I could finish my remark
"Look at the chair Ernies sitting in." He used Hemingways
first name as if they were old friends.
I looked closely and then looked back at the rocker that Mr. Burgess
now occupied. They were the same.
"Wow, I see what you mean!"
"Yeah I picked up a lot of Hemingways furnishings on that
trip. The old man that owned the cabin where he shot himself was selling
off everything. Didnt know what it was worth. You did know that
Hemingway blew his head off?"
Every writer, every American of that day knew that Ernest Hemingway
had committed suicide with a shotgun in one of his favorite hunting
lodges in Idaho.
"Yes I knew that."
"Coulda gotten a lot more for that bureau if it werent for
"Whaaat? What does that mean?"
Burgess looked surprised at himself as if he had just given away the
secret nuclear codes for the defense of the free world.
"Oh no you never mind that. How about some tea?"
Not wanting tea but refusing to leave without answers I automatically
While the old man was in back brewing up tea I rummaged around the area
and found numerous items either about Hemingway or possibly owned by
him. There was a portable Royal typewriter with a case that was monogrammed
EH and seemingly first additions of some of his works. I looked at the
photo again and the Royal was plainly visible on a small writing desk
under a window. Also the inscription on the autographed picture was,
Mi General Castro, Viva La Revolucion! Sous Amigo, Ernest Hemingway.
I heard the clattering of the tray and looking up quickly like a schoolboy
caught doing something wrong, I quickly placed the photo back on the
"Ah I see you figured out the autograph. Castro and Hemingway were
great friends you know. They went fishing together. Ernest (again familiar)
was planning on seeing him soon and had that photo made for him but
by 1961 all mail and travel service was cut to Cuba."
"You mean this may be Hemingways final autograph?"
"Probably. Close to last anyway."
"I see that you have an old typewriter
" Before I could
finish he anticipated me.
"Yeah, thats his. Wrote his last novel on it, the first of
what was to be his trilogy on World War II, Fields in the Stream.
"Yep. Started the second one on it too, didnt have a title
yet. Theres speculation that there may be a copy of it around
somewhere. Man tried to buy that Royal from me a few years back
just to get the ribbon off to see what was written on it. Offered me
$2500. I said no! Not for any amount of money! Im not gonna desecrate
his memory. Nope. This stuff will go to those that deserves it, people
who loved Hemingway and his work: students, teachers, writers. I dont
want some Hollywood tycoon or university museum to get what ought to
belong to a person to use and enjoy. I dont have a lot of years
left and I want to make sure this stuff goes to the right homes."
"Well what about the mirror? Why did that end up at the Goodwill?"
The old man stared at me suspiciously for nearly a full minute before
his frank and short answer.
"It was haunted thats why."
That was it. Burgess shifted his eyes away as if waiting for me to pose
another question. I didnt. The silence broke him. "The folks
I sold the bureau to returned with claims that it was keeping them up
at night. They said they heard the sound of typing and could smell cigars
and whiskey at all hours. Items displayed on the bureau top would be
missing in the morning and perhaps not found for days and in the oddest
places, like the freezer. They discovered though that if they covered
the mirror with a drape the phenomenon would cease."
My mouth dropped agape but I remained silent. Burgess looked at me without
surprise and continued.
"They kept the dresser but gave me the mirror back at no cost just
to get rid of it and I sold it again for fifty dollars but that couple
too brought it back. Seems the mirror didnt want to stay where
it was placed. I had trouble with it too. I sometimes found it propped
up against the door in the morning as if trying to keep me out. Its
a full thirty steps from its usual space to the door. Im not a
superstitious or a religious man but I know what I know and I knew I
had to get rid of that mirror. Im not saying its haunted
for sure, I just dont want to know. Did I tell you that Hemingway
shot himself in that small cabin? The owner said that there was hardly
a spot that didnt have blood and brains on it. Yep, a shotgun
can cause a devastating wound."
I remembered the brownish spots I had seen on the mirror before buying
it. Could it be?
"Imagine. A great mans brains, the sum total of his life splattered
all over an object. Makes you wonder if the item really could pick up
part of his essence?
I asked Burgess to name a price for the photo and especially the typewriter.
"The photo?" He aahed. "Maybe we can talk about that
some day. The Royal? I dont think you can handle that machine.
I just dont know you well enough yet and I only want those able
to handle the special condition of the items to have them. You say youre
"Yes, Im trying."
"Then well see what you write for us but for now I will hang
onto those other items. Dont worry, theyre safe with me.
Im not goin nowhere."
Although I had many more questions I excused myself and promised Id
return to visit with him again. He really seemed to enjoy the company.
It didnt look like he did much business.
The drive back to Olympia was not without incident. I had driven this
section of I-5 many times and never had a serious problem but on this
trip my car coughed and sputtered, blew smoke and was just generally
cantankerous. I was also nearly involved in three freak collisions including
one in which a truck lost its load of stuffed animal toys all
over the freeway. It looked like the Saint Valentines Day Massacre at
Toys Are Us.
I made a mental note to myself to see my mechanic as soon as possible
even though the car ran much better as I drove into my apartment parking
space. I left the mirror in the back thinking I would retrieve it the
The night was cold as I sat at my computer hacking out this same old
trash that my on-line publisher asked for. I was writing for a western
site that showcased old style dime novels. I wrote several under different
pen names but really they were all the same. One was Sgt. Mac, a marine
whose adventures spanned most of the twentieth century. There was Trooper
Moran, another sergeant, this time in the 10th Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers)
in the old southwest and Chippewa, the story of a half-native frontiersman
torn between two worlds. Not Pulitzer material, strictly formula. Just
a way to turn a buck.
I usually write late into the night and at about 11PM I heard a car
alarm sound out in the lot. I didnt have an alarm so I knew it
wasnt me but I checked anyway and saw nothing. The alarm was intermittent
for the next hour until there was a knock at my door. It was Dennis
the building super.
"John You gotta come shut off your alarm, Im getting lots
"Dennis, I dont have an alarm."
"Look! I know your car. Just come down." He was insistent.
I grabbed my coat and followed Dennis down the stairs safe in the knowledge
that he had the wrong guy. Outside I could here the commotion more distinctly.
It was more than just a horn, it sounded as if the car were being pounced
upon by an elephant. Imagine my surprise when I turned the corner and
it was! No, it wasnt being pounced by a real elephant of course
but perhaps an invisible one. They car was jumping up and down on its
chassis like those old Chevys in the low rider parade in San Jose.
Its lights were flashing on and off and the horn blowing.
I turned to Dennis but all I could feebly say was
"I dont have an alarm system."
"Well for a guy who dont it sure is an effective one."
As the super stood back I cautiously approached the car but the commotion
ended before I reached the door. I turned the key just to satisfy the
super but knew that it had nothing to do with the problem.
"As long as I got you here can you help me carry the mirror in?
Someone may have seen it and tried to break in causing the alarm"
I lied. I think I had figured out the problem but didnt want to
"Anything to get back to bed." He replied.
We took it up to my apartment and I placed it in my office on the floor
for the time being. It lay behind where I sat at the keyboard and I
could feel unseen eyes boring into the back of my head: The eyes of
Hemingway? I shook off the ridiculous notion.
Sleep was slow in coming that night, the first night with my new "friend".
I was excited by the thought of owning one of the great mans possessions
and at a great price! I coveted the opportunity to purchase his typewriter
and autographed photo too. I needed to convince old man Burgess that
I was "worthy". What did he say? "Well see what
you write for us" ? I have to prove myself for this pawnbroker/antique
dealer to sell me something? What type of businessman does that? I tried
to put aside the thoughts racing through my mind and get some sleep.
I dreamt vividly that night, something I dont do often. I was
in a war. There were images of artillery shells exploding, screaming
aircraft, smoke, the death cries of the wounded and I could smell it
all too. I awoke that next morning with the odor of cordite and burned
flesh in my nostrils. After taking my morning piss I looked into the
bathroom mirror and was surprised to find soot on my face! I dont
have a fireplace and I couldnt explain how it got there. I searched
the area around my bed and found nothing.
I looked again at my new prized possession and saw that it needed not
just cleaning but refinishing. There were indeed brownish stains on
the wood frame of the mirror and something dark-red on the glass itself.
On the latter I tried scraping it off with a putty knife. I thought
it was spilled paint. The spots would not come off. I debated whether
to clean it further. Antiques are supposedly best left in the condition
they are found. It would have more value with the blemishes, not that
I would ever sell it. Of course I really needed that autographed photo
with the bureau in the background to even claim that it belonged to
Hemingway. I put those things out of my mind and set outside for some
daily chores. A struggling writer doesnt make much money but does
get to set his own hours. I would write later that night. I think I
had a chapter of Trooper Moran due.
That night I wrote like I had never written before. Besides a chapter
of Moran I also wrote two chapters of Sgt. Mac and started another on
my long neglected Luftwolfen stories. I was on fire! The sound of the
splashing of my big fat fantail Spot, in the aquarium brought me to
the realization that it was dawn. I fed the fish and went to bed. I
slept all that day again dreaming vividly of what were clearly images
of World War Two. Upon awakening I went back to the computer and hammered
out more drivel all day. This schedule was repeated nightly for over
a week. As always I sent it in electronically to my editor.
The mirror?: It remained where I had first placed it on the floor of
my office just a few feet behind my head. It was too heavy for one person
to lift and affix to the wall and I had grown increasingly solitary,
hadnt seen anyone in over a week. I only left the house once late
one night as I had run out of food. I drove to Mega Foods at 3AM and
bought my usual items, however when I reached the frozen pizza section
I loaded the cart with as many as possible. I wasnt a big fan
of pizza but for some reason I got twenty-four of them.
I returned to my routine of writing all night but with one change: I
now felt a strong urge to drink, something I did little of. Being in
a package-store state I went to a local bar owned by the Longshoremans
union, The Brotherhood, and ordered bourbon one night, rum another.
I also began smoking cigars, not any cigars but expensive Cubans. I
was fifty years old and had never smoked. This became part of my schedule;
take a break from writing at twelve, go to the bar and down as many
cocktails as possible in two hours then return home and write all night.
I not only wrote my usual stuff but also experimented with new characters
and story lines. I sent in as many items in one day as I used to in
a week. My editor, who usually only contacts me via e-mail, phoned one
"Jack? How are you feeling?"
"Im fine of course. What the Hell do you want!?" I rarely
cursed but then again I also wasnt a drinker
.until I bought
"Uh, well Im concerned about you and curious."
"Curiosity killed the cat!" I yelled into the phone for no
"Youre bothering me. What the fuck is it!?" I was surprised
by my own remarks. I really wasnt getting enough sleep and my
stomach was churning with a combination of whiskey and pepperoni.
"Well John, we have been pleasantly surprised by both the volume
and quality of your recent work."
"What was I before, you asshole, a fucking hack!?" I couldnt
believe my own attitude and remarks.
Im just concerned."
"Concerned about what, that Im writing too much too well?"
"Then why the Hell are you bothering me?"
The editor broke in with a firmer voice. "John we have enough material
for a years worth of issues for all of your serials. Dont send
us anymore for awhile. In fact I recommend that you take a vacation.
You sound stressed."
I momentarily had a vision of beaches, palm trees, dark-colored women
and rum, lots of rum. My voice magically changed from anger and irritation
to a mellow tone. I responded half out loud
"Yeah, Cuba is beautiful this time of year."
"What?" my editor asked. "Did you say Cuba? You know
thats off limits and I dont want to have our lawyers spending
money getting you out of jail for a lark."
"Well if that pinko Kennedy would get his head out of his ass and
realize that Fidel is a hero we wouldnt have this problem!"
"Kennedy?" He queried with no response from me. "Why
dont you try Jamaica instead?"
"Maybe I will when the British leave!" I slammed the phone
into its cradle and went down to The Brotherhood for a drink.
I continued writing for another week though not sending them in to my
magazine. While sitting those long hours at the PC I would often feel
someone watching me and in the reflection of the aquarium I thought
that I saw the face of an older man in a graybeard leering at me. I
saw this in the mirror a few times too. It was disturbing enough that
I began putting a towel over the fish tank and turned the mirror, still
on the floor, to the wall. When I would awake each day it was turned
I finally got my next door neighbor, a young college kid, to come over
and help me mount it to the wall about fifteen feet behind my desk.
It was actually a handsome piece and did in fact make the room seem
larger. The next day it was off the wall and leaning against my desk!
I got another friend, a carpenter from The Brotherhood, to come over
and he fastened it with numerous four-inch brass wood screws right into
the studs. I was satisfied that if the Earth ever came to an end that
mirror would be found by some future archeologist still attached to
that wall. The next day it was back leaning against my desk. An investigation
of the wall showed that it had been intentionally gently removed. The
brass screws were lined up neatly on the desk, balanced up-ended like
soldiers in revue.
I returned to The Diamond Pawn and Trades to see Mr. Burgess. It had
been three weeks since I had met him and I wasnt really certain
what I wanted, except of course for that portable typewriter. I had
started my writing career with one of those and then moved up to an
IBM Selectric when those were the top of the line machines. Still, writing
was tedious on those devices as compared to todays word processors
but I longed for a manually operated one again.
Old man Burgess was seated in the Hemingway rocker reading an original
copy of FOR WHOM THE BELLS TOLL when I walked in. He looked up and without
"Hows it going Ernie?"
At first I thought he was pulling my leg. I sat down on the divan.
"Ive been reading your latest stuff in the magazine. Your
characters are sharper, edgier, more interesting. You are a good writer!"
"Thanks Mr. Burgess." (I still didnt know his first
name). "Im not sure why Im here
"I do son and its yours."
"Why Hemingways typewriter of course. I kept it for you while
your writing improved as I knew it would."
"Thanks but how could you have known that?"
"Why, because youve had the mirror all this time thats
Without responding to that and excited by the prospect of getting the
relic I asked
"Really? How much?"
Burgess looked at me over the top of his glasses seemingly perplexed
by my question.
"How much? I dont think you understand. Its yours.
You deserve it. There is no price."
Like a child on Christmas who had just received a gift from his goofy
Uncle Zeke I grabbed the typewriter off its display and rushed out the
door. Old Burgess cried after me.
"I expect to read that second part of your unfinished trilogy soon!"
His words rang hollow in my ears because of my excitement at receiving
such a prize. It didnt occur to me until I was on the road home
that he was confusing me with the great man himself. I momentarily thought
him a crazy fool and felt bad about taking advantage but I had perhaps
the greatest typewriter in history: a 1952 Royal Traveler, original
price: $9.95. My car never ran so well as I flew home.
I immediately set the typewriter up on my desk, pushing the Compaq PC
aside. After opening the case I ran my fingers across the keys, the
keys that he touched. The keys that pounded out The OLD MAN AND THE
SEA and who knows what else. I was mesmerized. I slipped in a sheet
of paper and began writing. It was 4PM and before I knew ten hours had
passed. I was exhausted. Without proofreading or even removing the last
page I shut off the light and went to bed in my clothes. I dreamt again
of WW II and stirred a few times thinking that I heard the clickity-clack
of the keys banging on the old machine in the office. When I awoke late
the next day, after having my coffee I wandered back into my office
ready for another nights work and curious to proof read what I
had written the day before. Funny that I couldnt remember but
then I was drunk again the previous night.
I was surprised to see the Royal with its cover back on, ready to put
away. I had sworn I left it off as I had not finished. Sitting neatly
stacked next to it were four-hundred pages of a novel of war and love
in battle-torn Italy. I read, hypnotized by my own creation and wondering
where I got this latent talent. Was it the booze, the mirror, the Royal?
If so I should have started drinking sooner. I sealed the manuscript
in a manila envelope and sent it to Doubleday, New York. This wasnt
the sort of work that my normal publisher printed.
As I awaited a response I quit writing altogether. After all I was months
ahead on my novellas for the web and I had just written my first and
if I do say so, great novel. I spent most of my nights at The Brotherhood
getting drunk, grabbing young ass and just generally being obnoxious.
I grew fatter and sported a graybeard.
One day I found myself pulling into the parking lot of a gun shop in
Tacoma. I wandered around not certain why I was there. I was drawn to
the used shotgun rack.
"Can I help you?" The clerk asked.
"Do you have a Remington 880?" I found myself asking though
I didnt know what one was. In fact I knew nothing of guns and
"Oh yes by chance I have two."
He showed me the first one. It was beautiful in its own way. I
ran my hand along its full length as if feeling a young womans
body for the first time. I put my fingers into every slot, every inset,
every nook and cranny, just grinning with delight.
"What year was it manufactured?" I asked as if I had a purpose.
"Lets see", said the clerk as he pulled out a catalogue
and checked the serial number.
"Oh no, that wont do!" I said. "Do you have one
constructed before 1961?"
The clerk looked at me mystified. "Well I have an inferior quality
one of the same make."
He pulled it down off the wall rack. Its barrel was rusted and
its stock dinged and cracked from years of misuse and neglect.
"This one was made in 1956 but for just a few bucks more the other
is a better buy." he advised.
"Ill take this one!" I pulled out the cash (for some
reason I no longer used credit cards) and laid out the price, $130.
I took it home and began cleaning. I cleaned and rubbed all night until
it shined like new. I honed out the barrel, re-oiled the chamber and
rubbed metazoline all over its body, my own body titillated with an
obscene pseudo-sexual delight.
The following day I got a call from New York. It wasnt Doubleday
but a lawyer representing the Hemingway estate. They wanted to know
how I had come across the manuscript.
"Why I wrote it of course."
"Come on Mr. Whelan, we both know better."
I had no idea what he was talking about.
"Thats right. Most people dont know this but Hemingway
was about halfway through the second installment of his untitled trilogy
about World War II. You wrote word for word that part and somehow managed
to finish it as well. My client desires to know two things: where did
you find the unpublished beginning and more, where did you get the ending?
No ending has ever been found."
Astounded, I responded "Look I dont know what youre
pulling but I wrote that whole thing. If it sounds like Hemingway, Im
flattered but I wrote it!"
"Mr. Whelan Im afraid that Mr. Hemingways estate will
have to sue you plus we have been given an injunction by the New York
Supreme Court to prevent any further publication house from seeing it.
You are hearby ordered to cease and desist."
Click. The call was terminated. I fumed over this turn of events and
needing some answers I jumped in my car and raced down the thirty-some
miles to Chehalis and the Diamond Pawn and Trades to see old man Burgess.
I found his storefront empty, well not exactly empty, there was a Starbucks
there now. I was quite certain that it had not been there a few weeks
before. I asked the barrista how long they had been open.
"About a year." The cute little thing responded.
"That cant be!" I shouted. "I demand to see Mr.
"I dont know who you are mister but I am going have to call
the police if you dont leave, youre disturbing our guests."
I looked around at the yuppies and wanna-bes drinking their mint
teas and chocolate lattes with cell phones glued to there ears sitting
at laptops as if they were heads of states or crown princes of
"Dont give me that shit!"
I turned to the crowd and yelled accusingly,
"Hell there isnt a single one of ya worth the clay God made
you of! Im twice your age and could kick the crap out of any two
of you at a time! Damn. You dont even know how to drink. Real
men drink whiskey not some sugary watered-down coffee!"
A cop arrived in the doorway as the crowd of young techno-punks and
Generation X, Y and Zeers ran for their lives, baby strollers
and Golden Retrievers (those great hunting dogs humbled with neckerchiefs
tied about their necks by their prissy owners.) running with them.
"And another thing. Real men dont put scarfs on good
huntin dogs!" I shouted after them.
As the room cleared the mature cop closed in on me slowly.
"I know what you mean fella. Hell I wouldnt want my dog to
be caught dead dressed up like a sissies poodle. I also prefer
a good stiff drink over a cup of $3 coffee. Why dont we go across
the street to The Lumberjack Bar and have a snort?"
"Why thank you sergeant." I said. "You know that place
reminds me of a joint I used to go to in Key West. Had a dartboard that
we used for target practice with our pistols. I was the undisputed champ
in 1954, 55 and 56. Won with the Luger I took off a dead
"Thats fine shootin" said the sergeant who upon reaching
the sidewalk sucker-punched and cuffed me before I could react.
I was taken to the small station for interrogation and a cooling down
period. They thought I was drunk because I stilled smelled of booze
from the night before but hadnt had a single drop that day. After
a few hours they released me. As I was signing out I asked the sergeant,
who had lived in Chehalis his whole life, what happened to Diamond Pawn.
"You mean old man Burgesss?" He asked.
"Yeah thats it! I mustve been on the wrong street."
"No, Starbucks is where it used to be. Mr. Burgess died about five
years ago and that storefront sat empty all of this time."
Not wanting to spend anymore time in jail or worse, be sent to the nut
house, I demured.
"Oh I see." and went on my way.
When I got home there was a message on my answering machine from my
editor at the magazine. He said that because of the controversy involving
my new manuscript (it was all over the newspapers) that he didnt
wish to print any of my novellas again: Not Sgt. Mac, Trooper Moran
or the others. My income dried up over night.
I began drinking
heavier, having more dreams but not writing. I kept seeing an old man
in a beard in the mirror glaring at me and thought I could hear him.
"Youre a hack, a loser! Give it up! I wouldnt use your
writing to wipe my ass!"
I started pawning and selling my belongings off one by one to pay my
rent and bills. I was down to only a few items: a mattress on the floor,
the mirror, typewriter and shotgun. I couldnt part with those.
I fell behind on the rent. In my dreams I kept hearing Hemingway and
others, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Twain, Forrester, Stevenson, Poe, all
saying the same thing:
"Youre no good!" "Give it up." "Youre
an insult to our art." "Do it! You know you want to!"
I awoke in a sweat from the sound of banging at my door.
"Who is it?" I shouted.
"The sheriff. We have an eviction notice."
I felt sick to my stomach. I turned to the mirror and saw the great
mans image again. With a smile and a knowing look I followed his
eyes across the room to the corner where the Old Remington sat. I knew
instantly what he was silently suggesting. I took a few steps over to
it. The pounding continued at the door. There was a bottle of whiskey
out on the kitchen counter. I took a swig. Then I picked up the shotgun.
© John Whalen - February 2006
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