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Hemingway's Curse: Chapter 2 Hemingway's Curse: Chapter 2
by Alexandra Pereira
2007-01-05 09:26:29
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Everything begun two months ago, inside my modest house at the small city where I inhabit. I was never one of long conversations, neither was I ever one with very numerous friendships: I follow my instinct and that’s all, besides I’ve never done badly with that. It succeeds that in my mother’s wake night, two months ago now, there was no intuition nor good-sense enough or so persuasive that they could protect me from attending the serious and not less extraordinary events that I will tell next.

hemingway's house - Ovi magazineFrom there to here my world has fallen down, persistent, several times a day and without any justification – when I think that nothing else will be possible, then the greatest of all phenomenons reveals itself, and then my past optimism turns me despondent in the present. This one, the one of the commander, it wasn’t but the last one of those episodes in a chronology that had become well stuffed with all kinds of exploits.

It happened the case, as above I reported, in the night of my wishful mother’s wake. Mom died in the most horrible and unexpected way, although now it seems to me that perhaps not even her disappearance must have been fortuitous, what in fact saddens one and makes one doubt in his chest a certain resigned apprehension, similar to that one we can only feel in the presence of a mystery as faithful as unsolvable.

There was no way around it: mom left home quite early in the morning to do the shopping at the neighbourhood’s grocery store, the cap on her head and woollen gloves in order to protect her sensible bones from the cold – by that time, she would certainly still thinking about my reaction to the careless revelation that she had done the night before, between tea, cookies and nuggets ice cream, and about which I was also still pondering with my body dormant and lukewarm by the satiating cuddle of the bedroom: the revelation that my father, whom I had never met, had once been someone famous, that it wouldn’t have been really worth it – according to my mother – to meet him when he was still alive, having in account his temperament, and that, besides the rest, he had made her promise still in his lifetime that never, under any hypothesis or circumstance, would she disclose – to me, his son – his real identity.

She had carried out the promise scrupulously until this moment: but she was beginning to find herself at an old age and the oldness weighed on her back and softened her, she considered that I had the right to know the secret, so she took in that night the decision that her conscience had been ordering her to take in the last few months. «Anyway, he was a man without great scruples...» she said, with an indifferent shoulders contraction, after disclosing my father’s true name.

For sure, mom still thought about this conversation and was closing her overcoat with both her thin hands because of the cutting matutinal wind, when a misgoverned snow-cleaning car erupted in the astral map of her destination outlining the most tragic route one can imagine: it crashed with her small and surprised body and it had large metallic teeth squeaking anxious of meat and slaughter, lead jaws gulping everything, a massive, rude and gigantic yellow mass. It left only mom’s hot gloves abandoned in the place of the accident and, behind it, the horrible spoor of a leak dropping blood on the diaphanous snow as rose petals loose to the chance.

Despite the shock suffered and the stupefaction before the news, I’ve treated of everything with spirit clarity and an exemplary abnegation – or, at least, this would be later the neighbours evaluation when congratulating me because of the discernment shown in such a disturbed moment –, thus at seven o’clock in the afternoon that day a wake was already organized with all the people in the block and some distant relatives present as well, the house adorned from the top of the roof to the basement stove with dark and noble cloths forming half-moon folds, old candelabrums and stock angels which guarded carefully the perpetual sleep of mom, besides a nicely composed table in the living-room to the side, provided with food in abundance and some liquors for the carouse.

«Your – I mean, not your, your mother’s one… – wake is capital, just let me tell you!» the guests were pulling me for my elbow to mutter aside on my ear, and therefore I’m not ashamed (rather proud) to admit, because it is well revealing of the effort that I undertook to dignify the memory of my beloved dead, that during mom’s wake there were many more people congratulating me and complimenting the event with grace than eery guests just worried about directing towards me their disguised hurt under the form of fake sorrows. But when, a few minutes after ten o’clock in the evening, the last guest closed behind him the heavy street door, all the impossibilities precipitated themselves and the imponderable facts made, in their turn, question to appear.

I’ve said goodbye farewell to that old colleague of mom with a long and moved hug which he repaid without modesty; however, I had exactly finished to lock the main door when a purple light, coming from the kitchen’s entrance, surprised me on my tired visage. I went there and I was livid when I saw the spectral ghost of my father – or of whom my mother had disclosed to be my father – apparently deep in thought, seated in a kitchen stool and drinking a double whiskey.

I didn’t know what to say; I’ve made a cross with my arms which did not occasion any effect either: nor did it dissolve, sudden, the appearance into smoke, nor did it dissuaded the ghost from sipping my alcohol. I sat down as well and, because he seemed unhappy to me, I’ve talked to him both wanting to distract him and to acquaint what was he doing there. We’ve chatted during one pleasant hour about everything: he contradicted mom’s version and denied that I was his son, however he asked me for a favour which I could not ever refuse, not in my wildest dreams, under penalty of a curse also abating over me.

Now it renders necessary to clarify that this was a tormented ghost to whom all wishes should be satisfied, for as absurd or incoherent that they could seem, because the one who did not make like this would risk himself to be contaminated with the curse, converting himself into a tormented appearance. «Men were my terror and my curse was understanding badly what it was to have courage. Fame didn’t help either...» confided me blushing the ashamed ghost, condition that – I admit – must not be very common in transparent masses, pale and floating ones livened up by a dead spirit.

«This ghost is more alive and human» I thought, and I felt happy with the possibility of having been that man, in the truth, my real father. He spoke to me as if we were close friends for a long time now – or otherwise it could be the drink already occasioning an uninhibiting effect on his vocal cords –, he explained me toddling the reasons that livened him up and, though the idea seemed ridiculous to me, I’ve congratulated myself with the apparent sincerity of the affliction which was transparent in his stubborn and liquid eyes.

He had a problem: the tourists were invading, in the last years, as much the intimate nooks on his favourite house as the cellaret of the bar where he had continued to supply himself with drinks after his death, in such a way that not only he felt that his privacy was being completely exposed in the last decades, but he was also subjugated to the abstinence unpleasant effects – the so-called delirium tremens – because he couldn’t visit the bar with as much regularity as formerly.

He was a very woebegone ghost – I’ve demonstrated to understand his concerns with a slight and solidary head waggle. Then he made me the request: it was a very simple one, with all the necessary details so that I could execute the plan successfully, and frankly I’ve hesitated for a while when he asked me with a naughty expression to promise that I would satisfy it. After all, it was almost the equivalent to cremate still in life a dying one, gathering all his memories, outfits, personal objects and pieces, admiring hearts and the ones of his beloved people in the same triumphal burning pyre – besides, it could even also be considered a crime.

It succeeded me however to look at the rigid mother’s body lying in the dining-room among wreaths and I remembered the insurrectionist’s curse, what immediately dissuaded me from denying any request, besides the old ghostman guaranteed to me, with a pert and accomplice eye blink, that only in that way could he rest in peace – I decided to yield and try to satisfy that last wish as soon as I could. I’ve promised, though not with great enthusiasm. On the contrary, satisfied with what he had just heard, the ghost snapped five times his left-hand fingers making disappear with each creak a part of his body, until he was completely gone in the cold night, cheeks and everything, converted into a tiny lonely lilac light which blinked three times out there over the frozen hill.


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