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Hemingway's Curse: Chapter 3 Hemingway's Curse: Chapter 3
by Alexandra Pereira
2007-01-07 01:36:00
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The dining-room was already in the dimness thanks to the melted candles, but there was a tepid atmosphere intensifying the flowers perfume when I returned to keep my mother’s orphan and damaged poor body company, which was all alone in the desert room. We’ve covered that corpse with make-up the more we could, still the face was swollen and the trunk had to be covered, from the neck to the feet, with a very thick sheet in order to save from the serious wounds there displayed my guest’s sensible eyes.

Just as I seated down on the black chair next to the defunct, the front door – which I had locked a little time ago – opened itself to let in a furious and snowed whirlwind, followed by three furious wild cats, which entered the room. When I finished barring the door with a small piece of furniture I had to rub my eyes with both hands, because when peeking through the window to measure the storm violence I thought I saw out there, in the snowed hill’s place, a mountain as high as the Kilimanjaro.

And what a surprise I didn’t have when I observed that one of the wild cats was standing only on his back paws and was bullfighting the other two with bravery and precision, with the help of a small red cape! I decided to lock the three beasts in the pantry: there was, out of nowhere, a huge blue merlin in the pantry, suspended from mom’s old hangers by it’s back fin – it’s silver-colored scales vibrated in multiple reflections and the beak down, opened mouth, was dripping salty water over the waxed floor –, besides that a shotgun with thick pipes was settled down at a corner of the pantry, of which I didn’t understand, not even with the greatest reasoning and memory efforts, how the hell had it shown up there.

The way they were, they resembled cats in the rain, the three felines staring humbly at me, with the snow melting in their dense fur and seated under the salty shower that was dropping from the big fish mouth. «Now let’s have a look at this» I said, crouching to fetch the cape that the biggest cat was holding between his claws – the beast didn’t offer any kind of important resistance and I thought that perhaps that accessory would turn useful by warming up my lap during the longest night of my life.

Once the pantry door was locked, this one also barricaded with another small piece of furniture, I’ve seated again, relieved, on the chair next to mom – «What would it be of men without women» I brooded when I saw her impassive face that, I should say it, tranquillized me a lot – and I fell asleep. I woke up with a start to the deafening sound of bells knelling: I could observe terrified that the red cape on my lap had mouldered during my sleep in a sticky cherry-colored blood puddle, this in spite of the fact that, apparently, I was to find myself unharmed.

I straightened the forefinger and dived it in the puddle, then I raised it as high as my mouth and smelled: that liquid there was cherry liquor... I could not find any explanations for that, but the fact is that I was already distracted with the perception of the tepid emanations – similar to those that one can feel when seated next to a brazier – exhaling from my mother’s body, deep from her seventy six years old run over almost one day ago, which I found, in reality, very odd.

We were only two pairs of hours away from the funeral, I had to change my clothes not to cause any strangeness in the people who would be present then and again the Kilimanjaro showed up as waving in my window’s frozen frame. I remember thinking: «Gosh, now how am I going to explain the visitors that the Kilimanjaro appeared at my doorstep?

This house is so livened up that there doesn’t seem to be a wake going on anymore, but a party: damn, have we arrived to Paris already?!», but my fears were revealed baseless because at the hour agreed the funerary gentlemen and the mourning doleful ones arrived at my place, and everything was looking normal by that time. I say “was looking” because I sighted the ghost again during the funeral jumping between two neighboring gris gravestones and, to be frank, strange things have been going on with that tomb in the last two months, which I will not precise here because of the respect due to the memory of my dead mother.

They have been the days, since then and general rule, if not uneasy at least extremely frazzling to me. Strange phenomenons begun to occur with the greatest regularity, so bizarre events that before the death of my mother they would have been completely unthinkable or shocking and that – if it wasn’t for the assiduous presence of the ghost crying with his elbows supported on my secretary during the nocturnal discrete solitude – they would be enough for me to put in doubt my own mental health.

The case had turned, however, in such a way that the paternal spook, that misanthrope spectre of person, desired to see my promise fulfilled with the hugest possible hurry so that he could then rest in peace – therefore, he blackmailed me with all kinds of freakish occurrences and a fertile sadness pledged in wetting my work papers, if possible turning them forever useless. This irritated me deeply. When I got his intentions, the promise dilemma bursted my nerves down, I had to go to the doctor and start taking tranquilizers; I did not resolve the insomnia with herbal teas, however the sedatives attenuated it considerably, in spite of my hands lost of firmness.

But the ghost continued on his footpath, implacable as never before: or there were deer scalps embalmed and hung appearing over the fireplace, or a fishing rod stuck in the washbasin drain with the small ticket «Be a man» sticked on it’s reel, or the blue merlin spine – the only part of the fish that I managed to save from the wild cats fury after the quarantine to which I had submitted them –, which (I swear) I was intending to deliver to the competent authorities for further investigations, flied by magical arts means dissuading my wise intentions and disappearing under the persian carpet without leaving any trace behind.

Until one day I decided to yield. I was just on track to lose my job; I opted for taking some short vacations instead and decide this subject once and for all: at least, I would have my conscience clean and the promise fulfilled, because the plan to execute was not that difficult that I couldn’t accomplish it (and could someone else do it?) in the most efficient and discrete way possible, without leaving behind myself the minimum clues. «Okay, I’ve already understood the message: I think that the time has come to go, now» I communicated that night to the ghost, who was mouldering himself in whimper, moans and lacrimal fluids, dissolving in a mire the dossiers with my last six months of work, plangent and noisy as a dissonant harp. I contained my anger and turned my back away, while he started celebrating the fact with sonorous outbursts of laughter, which I ignored.

When I arrived to the other end of the office, I faced him with a discontent expression and tried to keep my voice in an imperative tone: «But please, do me the favour: do not forget to still dry all that paperwork yet tonight».

The sun was almost setting when we arrived to the Bimini’s port, there were aquatic birds receiving us with great tumult, darkly bevelled against a vernal sky that was fainting away from deep blue to pungent purple. I had bought a tourist package for eight days where there had been planned only a fugitive stop in these islands, nevertheless I decided that I would stay there for three nights until I had completed the service with perfection.

I would follow to the scratch the indications previously given to me by the damned ghost, who was watching me even in the flesh of the boat’s commander: I’ve only decided to really do that when I arrived at the Bimini and realised this detail; I would completely deliver my destiny on his hands and my faith to the correctness of the plan sketched, before me, by someone whose intentions I couldn’t but see indistinctly or with insufficient precision.

As the night was leaning down on us when we stepped on the causeway of the port, I decided to orient myself quickly in the hotel direction to leave my luggage there and rest from the journey.


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